On May 12, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation opened the new Race Street Pier as part of DRWC’s new Master Plan for the Central Delaware River Waterfront. Formerly Municipal Pier 11, the pier was renamed as the Race Street Pier to further reinforce its relationship to the City and reinstate its historic name.
Construction of the original Race Street Pier began in 1896 including a large building built on two levels to serve different functions; the lower level for shipping and the upper level for recreation. As a nod to its past, the physical design of the new pier is split into two levels – an upper level with a grand sky promenade and a lower level for passive recreation and social gathering. A ramp rises twelve feet into the air along the north face of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, dramatizing the sense of arriving in the space of the river through a forced one-point perspective and allowing for rare views back to the City. A lower terrace supports a multi-purpose lawn, planting beds and seating. The two levels are linked by a seating terrace that wraps around the end of the pier and amplifies the sense of being on water’s edge.
Trees: The 37 large caliper Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor) trees were cultivated for four years at a nursery in Millstone, N.J for the World Trade Center Memorial at Ground Zero in New York City.
Grasses and Perennials: Almost 10,250 individual 4 inch pots of shade tolerant grasses and perennials were planted in weathered steel planters to increase diversity and add texture, color and seasonal interest.
Lighting: The park’s setting under the Ben Franklin Bridge is spectacular at night; therefore the park was designed to be enjoyed in the evening as well as during the day with extensive lighting including 200 LED Solar Light Blocks embedded into the paving.
Paving: The paving on the upper level ramp is Trex, a sustainable synthetic decking material made out of reclaimed plastic and wood, representing one of the largest public installations of Trex decking in the country.
Railings: The perimeter railing leans at a 65 degree angle towards the pier, further accentuating the forced one-point perspective of the ramp rising along the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Lights are incorporated into railing on the lower level.
Seating Steps: Tiered seating terraces link the upper and lower levels and create a destination at the end of the pier for viewing, gathering, and contemplation.
Wharf Drops: 2 wharf-drops on the lower level originally used to unload cargo for shipping were retrofitted and integrated into the new park. They are covered with transparent metal grating and a portion of one has been left open for users to experience the river in an unusual and authentic way.
Fill: Over 2,015 cubic yards of geofoam were used to form the sky promenade on the upper level.
Tides: The Delaware River is tidal, fluctuating an average of six feet in elevation a day. At mean high water level, the lower level of the pier will be approximately 4.5 feet above the river, making the Race Street Pier one of rare places where you can get close to the water. The Race Street Pier is also a tidal register, where you can find out the forecast for high and low tides for the City of Philadelphia.
Hours: Race Street Pier will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. during the upcoming summer season. Park rules will prohibit the use of skateboards, skates or recreational scooters. Motorized vehicles, commercial activity or solicitations, special events, assemblies, performances and amplified sound, as well as drinking alcohol will all require special permits. Dogs will be required to be on a leash and owners will be asked to pick up after them.
DRWC also announced a partnership with Clear to provide FREE 4G WiMAX internet access for the Race Street Pier enabling all visitors to enjoy Clear’s super fast, on-the-go internet at no charge. DRWC looks forward to continuing to work with Clear on future projects.
Facts and figures supplied by Laurie Heinerichs of the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation. Photos by PennPraxis’ Bridget Keegan Barber