Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pier 68 and Beyond

Following the success of the Race Street Pier, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation has honed in on its industrial relics much the way the Schuylkill River Waterfront Corporation did on its own banks. 

Two more piers, Pier 53 and Pier 68, have found new life as park proposals. As mentioned before, Pier 53 may house Jody Pinto's Land Buoy, an illuminated and climbable tower at the end of the dock complimenting Camden's proposed Skyview Tower.

The most recent park/pier proposal is for Pier 68 near Walmart in South Philadelphia. Don't let Walmart fool you. This pier anchors a bike and jogging trail that carries recreationalists north to Penn's Landing.

A unique feature not available at Race Street Pier will be the promotion of fishing and ecology. Despite what you may think about fishing in an urban river, it's a popular pastime along both of Philadelphia's rivers. Creating a legal venue will also provide education about fishing in the area, essentially what's safe to eat and what should be thrown back.

However, when I looked at a thumbnail of the proposed Pier 68, I confused the blue lines in the rendering with power generating windmills and for a moment, got even more excited. I immediately thought of Jennette's Pier in Nags Head, N.C. 

After Hurricane Isabel destroyed Jennette's Pier for the last time, it was replaced with a concrete pier completed in 2011, one that houses a museum, aquarium, and gift shop all powered by three windmills atop the pier.

Perhaps someday.

The unique approach the DRWC has taken in not only proactively addressing its existing assets - its abandoned piers - is proving that the Delaware Waterfront doesn't necessarily need to copy the success of the Schuylkill Banks by focusing primarily on its shores, but by reaching out atop the water. 

Detached from residents by I-95, these pier parks aren't complimenting neighborhoods as the banks of the Schuylkill does, but creating destination attractions for South Philadelphia, Pennsport, Old City, and perhaps someday, Northern Liberties and beyond.

As the trend continues - a trend not only dedicated to creating a portfolio of river top parks, but one that is truly considering the pastimes these piers have offered - we might one day see Pier 124, otherwise known as Graffiti Pier, sured up to provide a haven for aspiring street artists. 

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