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Enhancing the Benjamin Franklin Parkway

The Benjamin Franklin Parkway was designed by French urban planner Jacques Gréber in the early 1900s to emulate the Champs-Élysées in Paris, and it has become one of the city’s proudest accomplishments. The pastoral, tree-lined boulevard which connects City Hall to the vast greenery of Fairmount Park is now home to many of the region’s most important cultural institutions and hosts popular festivals, races and other mass gatherings.

However, the City of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, The Pew Charitable Trusts and other stakeholders have recognized that the Parkway should be more attractive, convenient and friendly for pedestrians, bicyclists and other public use. Recent improvements—including lighting and renovations to Logan Square and Aviator Park—have been helping to make the Parkway an increasingly appealing place. A fuller makeover will now help the Parkway realize its full potential. The construction of a new home for the Barnes Foundation’s artwork on the site of the former Youth Study Center makes this an important moment to invest in the Parkway.


Estimated Costs - $19,100,000

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania—$6,450,000
The City of Philadelphia—$6,400,000
The Pew Charitable Trusts—$2,000,000
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation—$1,250,000
The William Penn Foundation—$1,000,000
Philadelphia Museum of Art—$2,000,000


The 1600 and 1700 blocks of the Parkway: Using design guidelines developed by Fairmount Park and Lager Raabe Skafte Landscape Architects, with broad support from the community and local cultural institutions, the city will install new granite curbs, concrete sidewalk paving with brick edging, new benches, trash receptacles and quality plantings. These upgrades will be in keeping with the standard set by the improvements at Logan Square and will provide a much better pedestrian experience in the most urban section of the Parkway below Logan Square. Work on the 1600 and 1700 blocks is expected to begin in 2011.

Sister Cities Plaza: The Center City District will manage the landscape improvements at the existing Sister Cities Plaza, situated on the east side of Logan Square in front of the Cathedral Basilica. Designed by DIGSAU and Studio Bryan Hanes, enhancements include a new plaza with fountain that celebrates Philadelphia’s sister cities; a multi-purpose pavilion housing a café and community space; a children’s discovery garden with pond area; and new sidewalks, plantings, lighting and benches. Work will begin this summer and be completed next year.

The 1800 block on the south side of Logan Square: Following the Parkway design guidelines, the city will install new trees and repair paving just south of Logan Square. This will be accomplished in 2011.

Shakespeare Park: Shakespeare Park is located on the north side of Logan Square in front of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Center City District will oversee the revamping of the park, with state funding. In accordance with the plan being developed by Lager Raabe Skafte Landscape Architects, Inc. and Pennoni Associates, there will be a new plaza, paving, trees, shrubs and benches. The plan is being developed as part of the reconstruction of the deck covering the Vine Street Expressway, and work at Shakespeare Park will thus not begin until after 2011.

The Rodin Museum block: Following a design prepared by landscape architect OLIN, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Fairmount Park are managing a major rejuvenation of the entire block surrounding the Rodin Museum, in the spirit of Jacques Gréber’s original design. Improvements will include a variety of additional trees, new and accessible garden paths, benches, trash receptacles and lighting. Embracing both the museum’s interior courtyard and surrounding site, the project is scheduled for completion in spring 2011 and will include a rich assortment of plantings providing seasonal interest to be enjoyed throughout the year. In addition to the landscaping work, the museum’s roof and façade will be restored. This work follows the 2009 upgrading of the paved entry plaza upon which Rodin’s The Thinker sits and the restoration of the main entryway into the courtyard, known as the Meudon Gate.

The 2100 and 2200 blocks of the Parkway: The city will narrow the outer lanes of the 2100 and 2200 blocks, reducing the line of traffic down to one lane, and will add parking and a bicycle lane. The inner lanes will be shifted to allow widening of the center islands at each intersection. Taken together, these changes—which are based on the Parkway design guidelines prepared by Lager Raabe Skafte Landscape Architects and the recommendations of a parking and transportation study—will dramatically improve the Parkway for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists alike. The major structural improvements will be completed by this fall, and the remainder of the work—including new trees and plantings, new granite curbs, concrete sidewalk paving with brick edging, and new benches and trash receptacles—should be finished by next year.

Upgrades on the 2000 block of the Parkway will await construction of the Barnes Foundation gallery and renovation of the substantial deck above the Vine Street Expressway. The eventual improvements to this block will match those of the 2100 and 2200 blocks, creating a seamless effect along the area beyond Logan Square.

Office of the Mayor: Doug Oliver, 215-686-6210 or
Fairmount Park: Timothy Gill, 215.683.0246 or
Center City District: Nancy Goldenberg, 215.440.5548 or
Pennsylvania Horticultural Society: Alan Jaffe, 215-988-8833 or
Philadelphia Museum of Art: Norman Keyes, 215.684.7862 or
The Pew Charitable Trusts: Cindy Jobbins, 215.575.4812 or

Social Media
Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Tumblr/YouTube: @philamuseum

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For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art phone at 215-684-7860, by fax at 215-235-0050, or by e-mail at The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100.

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