Germantown man’s love of Fairmount Park ‘magic’ becomes Roxborough photo display

Growing up, Germantown resident Gary Reed always had a fascination with Fairmount Park.

It started at an early age when his grandfather took him to the grounds around the Belmont Plateau, instantly making it his place to escape.

Every chance he got, Reed wanted to go to the park. He would constantly nag his parents to take him there when they visitited relatives living in nearby Strawberry Mansion.

For him, it was beautiful landscape and its juxtaposition to the gang-populated streets. But it wasn’t until high school that he learned the history behind the park. Those lessons sparked the beginning stages of The Lost Centennial Project.

The Lost Centennial Project is the exploration of Fairmount Park that exposes the park’s beauty by showcasing its historical aspects through photography. It was inspired by the Philadelphia Centennial in 1876.

“You see a whole connection there that is not really talked about,” said Reed. “It’s like a little piece of magic right there.”

A special place

The 54-year-old Germantown resident said the magic is in the 27 acres of wandering trails, brooks and butterfly and hummingbird gardens that are surrounded by soft rolling hills filled with the fragrance of blooming flowers.

For the project, he used an image-processing method called “high dynamic range” which consists of capturing multiple pictures of the same subject matter in order to more accurately represent contrast in pictures. He cited the dramatic effect of the ever-present dark clouds as an example.

In addition to reconnecting with childhood memories such as family reunions at the park, Reed said the project is a way to create awareness about the park’s beauty.

“I want people to learn that there is a precious jewel that they underappreciate, inform people it is in Philadelphia and also [inspire the] powers-that-be to make it more accessible,” said Reed. “I also want Philadelphians to look at the park, take ownership and realize what they have.”

Ten images from the project can be seen at Crossroads Café, 6156 Ridge Ave. in Roxborough.

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