Improving access to Philadelphia's waterfronts has been like a mandate for the civic placemaking arm of the Nutter administration, and in neighborhoods across the city that mandate has been put into action. Recent examples include the now completed Schuylkill River Boardwalk. Or Race Street Pier, along the Delaware.

Race Street Pier

Bartram's Mile is another vision to create a trail along the western banks of the Schuylkill connecting the Grays Ferry Crescent—another relatively recent green space development located along the eastern banks of the Schuylkill under the Gray's Ferry Bridge—with Southwest Philly.

Future Bartram's Mile

The project is one of five recipients of a recent Knight Foundation award, as part of its Reimagining our Civic Commons initiative. Money from the award will contribute to the costs of construction on this project that is, according to Patrick Morgan of the Parks and Rec. department, "shovel ready." Construction on the trail should  begin by mid- to late-summer, according to Morgan, with completion of the trail by the winter of 2015. An industrial element and lush landscape designs included in the plans may not be part of initial construction.

Eventually the area won't look like this anymore

We first wrote about plans for Bartram's Mile, designed by andropogon, in the fall of 2013, at the tail end of an engaging community input, planning and design process. The vision is for the trail to cross the river at the end of the Grays Ferry Crescent, over the Industrial Swing Bridge near 51st Street. It will continue past long worn out industrial sites. Revamping the area alongside the trail should make for an 8-acre green space. It's also a plan to spur development of the two vacant former industrial sites owned by Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation to the north and south of Bartram's Garden. The revamped riverfront area could serve as campus-like green amenities for corporations that might occupy the office-space PIDC envisions developing on the sites in coming years.

Image of part of the future green space

"You have the next generation workforce that expects some kind of green space would be part of it," Morgan said, about how the green space could serve as a business campus on the PIDC developed sites, once they are constructed. Meanwhile, the creation of Bartram's Mile has two primary benefits, Morgan explained. The first, is it connects residents of Southwest Philly with the river, and a green space. The second is "using the trail to get people to and through Bartram's Garden."

We're happy to see plans here are moving along. In the long-run, the goal here is to connect Bartram's Mile with the 58th Street Greenway, and eventually the East Coast Greenway. To be sure, Bartram's Mile should be one more chance of enjoying the outside spaces in town in a fresh way.