Along the river just south of Washington Avenue, you can walk out along a new boardwalk above the water at Pier 53. You can climb a spiral staircase that coils around a land buoy that stands 55 feet tall. If it was there a hundred years ago, the buoy would have waved to immigrants, more than one million, as they sailed into Philadelphia.
Last November workers broke ground on Phase II of Washington Avenue Green. On August 15th, the Mayor Nutter and others celebrated the ribbon-cutting on the transformation of the $2.15M pier into a public space that included new landscaping along the riverbank that will contribute to the overall ecology of the park and looks like a strip of wetlands, and a wide reaching view of the Delaware River, the bridges and Center City. It's a photograph millions will take from this point on.
The pier also serves as the northern end of a trail segment along the river that will run south to Pier 68, the next step in the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation's Master Plan for the Central Delaware. Designed by Applied Ecological Services and built by Neshaminy Contractors, Pier 53 also includes information about its history as the nation's first Navy Yard, where the USS Philadelphia was built, and its past as an immigrant station. The staircase at the end of the park was built by local fabricator Salter Spiral Stair. Friends of Washington Avenue Green will take care of the park. According to a DRWC press release, the pier park was funded through support from the William Penn Foundation, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and DRWC capital funds.