Washington Ave. Green takes an approach to greening the Delaware waterfront that stands in stark contrast to its much more heralded cousin, the Race Street Pier. Race Street Pier, built at a cost of $6M, stands out as a sexy new addition to the Delaware waterfront and virtually demands to be visited and utilized. It was built for style as much as for substance, and the price tag reflects that. Washington Ave. Green on the other hand, built for a fraction of the price, offers a more stark, utilitarian setting and a potential for future improvements and additions.

Opening last fall, this strip of land formerly known as Pier 53 is located at Washington Ave., to the east of Columbus Blvd. Formerly a huge lot covered in concrete, the new park’s primary goals are to give residents of South Philly easier, safer access to the Delaware river and to serve as a model for improved rainwater management. As much as we love our city, rainwater runoff through the streets and the sewers eventually ends up polluted and icky in our streams and rivers. The water that filters through the ground and returns to groundwater without running through the streets is Deer Park by comparison.

The park uses rain gardens, porous asphalt, and native meadow and woodland plants to manage storm water and reduce polluted runoff into the river. Not only does this improve storm water management in the park, but it will hopefully educate visitors about this important issue and perhaps inspire them to implement some of these ideas at home. Street trees, anyone?

We think this new park is great, but our only concern is that it’s nearly impossible to find unless you know it’s there. Might be time for the city to invest in some better signage or more PR or something, because what we’ve got now ain’t cutting it.

Entrance to the park and poor signage