Redesigning Spring Garden Street as a Greenway

Imagine Spring Garden Street as a green urban boulevard where pedestrians, runners, and cyclists had a recreational trail to move along, separated from car and transit traffic by a planted green divider that absorbs stormwater and beautifies the street. A version of that idyllic urban future could belong to Spring Garden Street if it is redesigned as part of the East Coast Greenway.

The East Cost Greenway – a trail network along the eastern seaboard aiming to connect cities from Canada to Key West – needs to traverse Philadelphia somewhere, in order to connect the Schuylkill River Trail and the developing Delaware River Trail. Enter the Spring Garden Street Greenway.

As previously reported on PlanPhilly, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) has been working on the Spring Garden Street Greenway project for years, in partnership with neighborhood organizations and city departments. With feasibility studies and design concepts now in hand, PEC is asking for public input on the Spring Garden Street Greenway. Their first public forum is on Thursday, October 27 at the Community College of Philadelphia.

Spring Garden Street is the prime candidate to become a greenway because it is unusually wide and connects river-to-river. In the late 19th century Spring Garden Street’s medians housed market halls, followed by park space in early 20th century. The street has proved highly adaptable over time, and there is plenty of room for bold, transformative thinking to change the street’s character anew for the 21st century.

By creating the Spring Garden Street Greenway, the city could create a dramatic shift in its urban landscape that does more than link regional trails. The Spring Garden Street Greenway would provide a safer, more attractive route across the city for cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians without causing traffic snarls. A planted buffer separating car traffic and the recreational trail doubles as an opportunity to manage stormwater runoff through “green street” landscape designs in accordance with the Water Department’s goals. For the diverse neighborhoods Spring Garden Street crosses, a greenway would provide space for recreation, and create a unified, beautiful streetscape that could help attract private investment.

The Spring Garden Street Greenway is an extraordinary opportunity for Philadelphia to think big, connect regionally, and help our city become healthier and greener.

If you want to know more about the Spring Garden Street Greenway initiative and have a hand in shaping its future, head over to the public forum hosted by PEC at the Community College of Philadelphia (18th and Callowhill) on Thursday, October 27 at 7pm. You can also track the Spring Garden Street Greenway’s progress on its facebook page.

Historic Spring Garden views from Pennsylvania Environmental Council | Interface Studio
(Historic Spring Garden views from Pennsylvania Environmental Council | Interface Studio)

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