Shady oasis ‘pops up’ on Broad Street

    Gabrielle White was not surprised to find that a garden had suddenly appeared in a vacant lot on Broad Street opposite the Kimmel Center.

    “You can expect anything to pop up at any time, especially on Broad Street,” she said as she enjoyed lunch with her husband, Kenneth, in a shady grove of honey locust trees.

    To create this shady oasis, the Philadelphia Horticultural Society and its collaborators brought in 16 large honey locust trees, three banana trees and a host of decorative plants.

    Just a few weeks ago, the lot had served as a venue for trapeze artists during the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts. Normally it is empty, with gravel and hard-packed dirt.

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    The lot, owned by the University of the Arts, now has a manicured lawn and wooden benches nestled in a colorful garden. It was designed to reflect and accommodate its artistic neighbors.

    “This is a great partnership for us this year with the University of the Arts,” said Alan Jaffe, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. “We’re making this a more active site: art installations, art exhibitions, art performances by the students at the University of the Arts, as well as other groups that will be coming in to perform in the summer and early fall.”

    The University of the Arts is currently sifting through student proposals for music, dance, and art installations for the site.

    Previous pop-up gardens have emphasized urban farming and communal gatherings. This one prominently features food service and a beer garden with cocktail tables and stools, surrounded by a manicured lawn and decorative planting.

    On the back half of the lot, two shipping containers have been converted into take-out counters by the design firm Groundswell and the restaurant company Four Corners Management (owner of Ortlieb’s and Union Transfer). Daily food and beer service will begin May 29th.


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