Franklin Square celebrated a seventh birthday today, but the Philadelphia park is actually more than 100 years old.
The Center City park is one of William Penn’s original squares planned during the inception of the city in the 17th century. Historic Philadelphia, Inc., celebrated seven years since Franklin Square underwent a transformation from a desolate space to an attraction for residents and tourists, complete with a carousel, a miniature golf course and a gourmet burger stand.
“The park was a totally failed public space before it was renovated. Almost no one went there,” said Paul Levy, head of the Center City District Development Corporation.
Levy added that Franklin Square was missing life and activity, save for a few homeless people who slept there. He said the new success of the park is owed completely to the improvements and is now a “huge attraction.”
There were important lessons learned from the revitalization of Franklin Square, Levy admitted. “The problem is that it’s surrounded by a highway, a bridge and few residents.” Attractions needed to be included within the square [as] opposed to Rittenhouse Square that thrives because of the life going on around it. Levy also applauded the new design for attracting multiple generations—activities for both adults and children.
He cited Franklin Square as the inspiration for the Sister Cities Park at Logan Square, which boasts a fountain and cafe.
“Franklin was the most embarrassing of the squares,” Levy said. “The renovations and improvements have been transformative.”