Schuylkill Banks: remarkably effective and far from done

Friday, October 17, 2014

I walked the new Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk before my river talk last evening. The skies were expressive, pewter and blue, and from this 15-foot-wide float of walkway over the river herself, I saw the city as I had not seen her before. One of the many exhilarating advantages of this new and elevating space.

Another advantage? The joy of it. The Philadelphians who are coming to know, and to better see, their river. The sense that they don't take this for granted, and why should they? It wasn't all that long ago that the Schuylkill was sludge and noxious fumes, dead water, a place to be hurried past. Now, thanks to the Schuylkill River Development Corporation, Fairmount Water Works, Schuylkill River Heritage Area, the William Penn Foundation, the people I have met this week at the 2014 Pennsylvania River of the Year events, and many others, the Schuylkill is the place to be.

I've written here about the Heritage Area. I've written here about Fairmount Water Works. Today, my spotlight is on the SRDC.

Already offering kayaking and river tours, skateboard parks and overlooks, this brand-new boardwalk, and the idea of the bucolic in an urbanscape, the SRDC is hardly done with its quest to build "trails and greenway running along both banks of the Schuylkill River wherever possible between the Fairmount Dam and the Delaware River." Now planned or in play are the Bartram's Mile, destined to run along the west bank between Grays Ferry Avenue and 58th Street (and one-day connecting to the Grays Ferry Crescent by an abandoned railroad bridge); a pedestrian/biking west bank trail; and an east-side trail between the South Street Bridge and Christian.

All I know is words. The SRDC, the organizations mentioned above, the river advocates who work on behalf of tributaries, against run-off, for the future—they are the ones making the physical, even quantifiable difference to our city.

Find a way to thank them the next time you head off toward the river. You wouldn't be there without them.


Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

The story of FLOW gets another chapter ...

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