University City Science Center recasts two blocks of 37th as place to hang out

     Innovation Plaza occupies two blocks of 37th Street in University City. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    Innovation Plaza occupies two blocks of 37th Street in University City. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    There’s a bit more open space to enjoy in one of the city’s technology hubs.

    The new Innovation Plaza turns a two-block stretch of 37th Street into a public hangout in the heart of University City Science Center’s expanding campus, rebranded as uCity Square.

    “This was a rather ordinary concrete walkway between Chestnut and Market Street, which was very nondescript, not very safe at night,” said Stephen Tang, CEO of the Science Center. “And now, as you can see, it is all dressed up.”

    New brick and trees spruce up the path, while tall, red modern lights frame the perimeter. This neighborhood being a launching ground for tech companies, visitors can also access free Wi-Fi while they linger on a bench.

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    “Play some backgammon, play some chess, play some checkers, come to an outdoor concert, eat some food, dance,” said Tang, when asked what he envisions for the space.

    The project, which cost $2.1 million, was funded with a mix of private money and state grant funds.

    The Innovation Plaza is also the new home for the Innovators Walk of Fame, which honors major contributions made by local entrepreneurs and researchers in a range of disciplines.

    A pop-up party is scheduled for Friday afternoon, with a formal dedication of the space scheduled for the spring.

    Disclosure: William Marrazzo, CEO of WHYY, serves on the Science Center’s board of directors and contributed money to the park project.

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