Philadelphia’s landscape architecture firm andropogon is redesigning a one mile segment of publicly owned, underused riverbank along the Schuylkill between Grays Ferry Avenue and 58th Street. Industrial development and highway construction has separated residents from the western bank of the riverfront for decades. Andropogon’s design goals for Bartram’s Mile include integrating the site with existing trails and bike infrastructure, managing stormwater, connecting the riverbank to its urban surroundings, and a design that highlights Bartram’s Garden, the oldest botanic garden in the United States.
PlanPhilly’s Green2015 plan cites Bartram’s Mile as “a major opportunity to convert publicly owned vacant land to public green space before 2015.” The project, spearheaded by Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Schuylkill River Development Corporation (SRDC), and the John Bartram Association (JBA), has been in the works since 2012. While the Green2015 deadline will pass before the greenway is built, stakeholders anticipate the project will be complete by 2016.
Right now, Bartram’s Mile is in its concept and visioning phase. Stakeholders envision bike paths, quiet spaces for tai chi, and landscaping that encourages interaction with the water. When complete, the park will provide another crucial link in the region’s trail network that includes the Schuylkill River Trail, and the planned 750 mile Circuit hike and bike trail network (300 of those miles exist today).