The Lower Schuylkill Master Plan, which aims to revitalize Southwest Philadelphia and create a 21st century industrial district, is seeing many new developments already transforming this area of Philadelphia. In July, Mayor Kenney, Councilwomen Jannie Blackwell, the John Bartram Association and students from Woodlands Academy celebrated the ribbon cutting of the Anne Bartram Carr Garden. This garden serves as the entrance to Bartrams Garden, a 45 acre historical landmark. The $2.7 million restoration project represents the first renovations to the garden in almost a century. The project also includes 12 geothermal wells, which will be used to heat and cool the national historic landmark Bartram House, as well as a new roof for the house.
Bartram’s Garden offers urban farming, community gardening, outdoor movies, river paddling, children’s classes and space for private and corporate events. It also provides much needed recreational space for its neighbors in the Kingsessing area of the city. Last year, the garden had 50,000 visitors and the John Bartram Association expects another 10,000 visitors with the upgrades this year.
A few miles from Bartram’s Garden, the development of the Innovation District along the eastern side of the Lower Schuylkill River is quickly progressing. Construction is set to begin at 34th and Grays Ferry to improve the physical appearance of this long neglected intersection. The streetscape project, financed by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and funding from the Philadelphia Water Department, includes upgrades to sidewalks, new lighting and landscaping. This intersection is the eastern gateway to the Innovation District and sits immediately adjacent to the University of Pennsylvania’s 23 acre Pennovation Works campus. The improvements to this dangerous intersection will support efforts to attract new companies, investment and development to this formerly forgotten industrial area.
The improvements to Bartram’s Garden and 34th and Grays Ferry are exciting developments at the gateway to The Lower Schuylkill River area and they are only the beginning. Once fully implemented, The Lower Schuylkill Master Plan aims to create nearly 50 acres of new green space and $63 billion in economic impact.