The construction that will transform the now bare surface of Race Street Pier into a riverfront park began today.
The ceremonial groundbreaking was scheduled on the same day that workers started to form the design created by landscape architect firm James Corner Field Operations, said Tom Corcoran, president of the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation at the Tuesday afternoon ceremony. “So after the program is over, I would advise everyone to move quickly,” he joked.
The construction team has until late spring to finish the project, which was designed based on input gathered from the public and has two distinct levels. The upper level features a promenade with benches and mature trees, while a lower terrace will have a lawn with lots of places to sit and look out at the river or upward at the Ben Franklin Bridge, which sits just north of the pier.
The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation is the quasi-city agency which is overseeing the construction of the park, in addition to the creation of a long-range master plan for the future development of the Central Delaware between Oregon and Allegheny Avenues. While the plan is not yet finished, the Race Street Pier project, the recently opened Washington Avenue Green park near Pier 53, and the in-design Race Street Connector project, which will better link the pier back to Old City, are all part of the master plan.
“What you're watching in front of you is the transformation of what will soon be considered one of the best waterfronts anywhere in the United States of America,” said Mayor Michael Nutter, who added that the only thing better than a groundbreaking is a ribbon cutting, and he was looking forward to that in the spring.