Long before the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation thought to turn Pier 53 into a park, it was the place where many European immigrants first set foot on U.S. soil.
Local historian Susan McAninley will Saturday morning lead a talk about that history, and a walk to check out the birds who now use the pier and surrounding land and water.
Work has just begun to transform the pier into a wetlands park with a boardwalk, overlook, and focus on the pier's immigration station and industrial past. The pier park will connect with the uplands portion, Washington Avenue Green, which is already open, and boasts the active Friends of Washington Avenue Green. When DRWC announced work was beginning, WAG got a nod for their work, and a wish was made that they'd adopt the new park, too.
It would seem that's already happened. McAninley, a member of Washington Avenue Green, has been compiling research on families - many of whom still live in Pennsport, where the pier is located - who entered the country through the station. About 1 million people came through the station between 1873 to 1915, from countries including Italy, Poland and Germany.The event begins at 10 am at the pier. The path to Pier 53 is located at the foot of Washington Avenue between the Coast Guard station and the sheet metal workers hall.
Kellie Patrick Gates writes about planning, neighborhood development and the Central Delaware Waterfront. A journalist for more than two decades, she worked for daily newspapers in Central Pennsylvania, Upstate New York and South Florida before coming to Philadelphia in 2003 to write for the Inquirer. Her work has appeared on PlanPhilly since 2007, and she also writes Love, the Inquirer's weekly wedding column. A native of Elk County, Pa., Kellie lives with her husband, Gary, and their dog and two cats.
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