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The new Dilworth Park: A green, grand opening

Elegance and grandeur of City Hall's facade.
Elegance and grandeur of City Hall's facade.
Kathy Martin (

The grandiose of features, of the grand opening of Dilworth Park, is the green elements that replace the former Dilworth Plaza. Finally, this principal real estate, next to City Hall, is restored to the usage of a town square, as conceived by William Penn. Dilworth Park will now artfully engage our transportation infrastructure, while ecologically solving for a town square, with this modern, yet historic, park.

Four days of celebrations

The official grand opening celebrations, for the new Dilworth Park, will run from September 4th through September 7th. Without doubt, the appreciation will continue as year round activities are planned including free outdoor movies, concerts and even ice skating in winter. But let’s not jump ahead into that season just yet. There is so much that is new for you to get acquainted. The old concrete plaza is now a lush green, tree-studded park. That is no exaggeration. More than seventy trees have been added for shade, fresh air, and a true park setting. Gone are the concrete barriers to the transportation concourse. The Market and Broad Street lines are now artfully directed through two iconic glass doors. The rhythm of the trains, the paths of their comings and goings, are now aligned in sync with a programmable fountain. Commissioned work of artist Janet Echelman, makes use of color to trace the movements of the trains, in real time. The Rose Blanca Café is also part of the new Dilworth Park. The Café will feature outdoor seating for a delicious bite while you enjoy some people watching and fresh air. There so many improvements from the old Dilworth Plaza, four days of special activities are needed to properly announce and celebrate grand opening.

The then and now

The former Dilworth Plaza area, initially named for former Mayor Richardson Dilworth, had served a wide range of purposes throughout its many years. Historical research revealed that this site once held an 18th century pump house that distributed water throughout the city. Philadelphia’s first public fountain also once stood here. This section of the city is also the only place where all forms of public transit, including subway, regional rail and trolley lines, come together.These lines are remnants of what was once an expansive streetcar system created with the arrival of electric trolleys in 1892. That active history added extra challenges to the planning for this park’s success. Among the technical and ecological improvements to this site, Dilworth Park will feature a collection and purification of rain water in channels around the pavilions. This will allow for irrigation of the landscape and to provide for the fountain. The old sunken courtyard has been raised that also forms a roof over the transit concourse. The 300,000 riders who SEPTA claims pass through this area daily will now experience new glass pavilions entryways to the concourse, below. This will be an especially welcome replacement to the old dark, uninviting entrance that was exposed to the elements. Now, to envision a new central gathering area that connects and engages, with year-round events, what a refreshing replacement. The new Dilworth Park will be modern yet historic, shady yet bright and colorful, new and sustaining. Be sure you make time to check out all that the newly green Dilworth Park, brings to the city. Be part of the celebrations for this exceptional, grand opening.