Center City Trail

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This project was completed in several phases between 1996 and 2009, but officially opened to the public in 2000. Since opening more than a decade ago, this area has been transformed from a formerly industrial no-man’s land to a beloved amenity that attracts an average of more than 19,000 user trips per week. This trail segment is a vital commuter corridor, a valued recreation amenity, and an oasis within the city.

The City of Philadelphia Streets Department began revitalization of the tidal Schuylkill River corridor with the bulkheading of a large portion of this trail segment between 1996 and 1998. This project was essential for protecting water quality in the Schuylkill by preventing further erosion, and for creating enough space to establish a viable riverfront trail and greenway. The City of Philadelphia Streets Department paved and installed lighting along the 1.2 mile trail segment in 1999. In most areas, this trail segment is eleven or twelve feet wide, allowing for a variety of recreational and commuting uses, including bicycling, walking, running, rollerblading and skateboarding. Upon opening to the public in 2000, the paved trail welcomed new visitors to the tidal Schuylkill.

SRDC worked with the City and the Army Corps of Engineers to landscape the Locust to Race Street trail segment in 2005 and 2006. Spaces between each of the bridges were designed as separate ‘rooms’ each with its own distinct feel. Landscaping elements such as trees, shrubs, flowers, and grass made an immediate impact on the space, transforming it into a vibrant greenway. Hardscaping, such as boulders south of Chestnut Street and a paved plaza between Chestnut and Market Streets, added variety and created unique spaces for riverfront events. Furnishings such as benches and trash cans along the trail made the greenway a more welcoming space for relaxing and enjoying the Schuylkill River. Landscaping this trail segment made the space even more inviting for neighbors and visitors.

SRDC, working with Fairmount Park, PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society landscaped the North End of Schuylkill Banks, from Race Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in 2009. This project included the creation of a gateway plaza near MLK Jr. Drive, a river overlook west of the plaza, a formalized fishing pier with custom benches near Vine Street, and a formalized walking trail near the tidal beach between Vine Street and MLK Drive. Fifty new trees were planted along a portion of this trail to enhance the green space and help manage stormwater runoff. New benches and trash receptacles were installed along the trail to create a more welcoming environment and encourage good stewardship.