Final Improvements Coming To Parkway


Outdated and deteriorating, near 17th and the Parkway | Photo: Nathaniel Popkin

The final phase of streetscape improvements for the Ben Franklin Parkway will commence in Spring, 2013, according to Fairmount Park officials. The project, designed by the architecture firm Cope Linder Architects in conjunction with the park’s design staff, will include improvements to landscaping, street trees, street furniture, bike lanes, and curbs from 16th and Arch Streets to the south side of Logan Square. The project will be complete in 2014, in advance of the Parkway’s centennial in 2017.

This phase, funded by PennDOT, brings almost a decade of continuous rebuilding of the Parkway’s civic spaces–meant to enhance the experience of the pedestrian and cyclist–to a close. “It took determination and consistency of focus to make it happen,” says Mark Focht, Fairmount Park executive director.

The only signature Parkway space to remain essentially unchanged will be Eakins Oval; Focht says despite a half dozen plans, given the complicated nature of the space a path forward has been elusive.

However, design work toward a $15-20 million rebuilding of JFK Plaza–Love Park–will begin in 2013; the new park will open in 2015.

About the author

Hidden City co-editor Nathaniel Popkin’s latest book is the novel Lion and Leopard (The Head and The Hand Press). He is also the author of Song of the City (Four Walls Eight Windows/Basic Books) and The Possible City (Camino Books). He is senior writer and script editor of the Emmy-winning documentary series “Philadelphia: The Great Experiment” and the fiction review editor of Cleaver Magazine. Popkin's literary criticism appears in the Wall Street Journal, Public Books, The Kenyon Review, and The Millions. He is writer-in-residence of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.


  1. Work really needs to be done on Eakins Oval. As a cyclist that uses this path every day to work, I believe it’s one of the most dangerous intersections in the city. Trying to merge as a bicyclist from Kelly Dr onto the BF Parkway is a task reserved for the lunatics and risk takers, with cars cutting off cyclists as they merge, illegal parking in the bicycle lane forcing cyclists into 30+mph traffic, and cars swerving in unpredictable manners. The BF Parkway bicycle lanes are wonderful, especially with the enhanced lanes, but to get to them from Fairmount and Brewerytown requires putting yourself at significant risk. If there is any section of the BF Parkway that needs improvement of traffic flow, it is this one.

    • I myself nearly bought it a couple of weeks ago coming off Kelly Drive. So naturally this issue was at the top of my agenda when I went to speak to park officials. Happily, almost literally as I write this, Fairmount Park officials and planners are working on a solution to this, essentially to keep cyclists away from Eakins Oval. I don’t have the exact route because they’re still analyzing it, but it will I believe involve using Pennsylvania Ave and perhaps Spring Garden Street–which will be all worked out with directional signage.

      We’ll follow up with a story as this develops–


  2. Is there somewhere we can find an overview of all the changes that’ve happened and have yet to happen?

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