• Learn about the conditions that led to Frank Furness' most incredible masterworks, including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts seen here, on Wednesday.
      Learn about the conditions that led to Frank Furness' most incredible masterworks, including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts seen here, on Wednesday.

Conceptual designs for Bartram's Mile envision a lush, active future along Schuylkill

Now that the calendar says it is officially spring, we’re dreaming of warm days spent exploring the city’s ever-expanding recreational trail network. It is particularly exciting to watch the Schuylkill River Trail enjoying a growth spurt: A new section will open in Roxborough this month, construction of the boardwalk to extend Schuylkill Banks to the South Street Bridge is moving along, and new design concepts for the future Bartram’s Mile trail segment were released this month.

Devoted readers will remember that last fall we got all excited about the prospect of the Bartram’s Mile Trail, which will extend the Schuylkill River Trail south from Gray's Ferry on the west side of the river, connecting with Bartram’s Garden and the 58th Street Greenway. EOTS went tromping and biking along the trail's future route during the trail planning project’s early public outreach phase, and we liked what we saw.

This winter the project team - Parks and Recreation, Andropogon, John Bartram Association, Schuylkill River Development Corporation, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, and PennPraxis* - took what they learned during those outreach sessions and hatched some fabulous preliminary trail design concepts.

Here's a look at the overall vision:

Just imagine the new connections to the Grays Ferry Crescent; spots to fish, boat, or play; trailside industrial fragments; and scenic overlooks to watch the river flow.

Here’s a look at some of Andropogon’s preliminary designs for trail and street sections:

    • Bartram's Mile North: Trail and industrial remnants
      Bartram's Mile North: Trail and industrial remnants
    • Bartram's Mile North: Trail and play area
      Bartram's Mile North: Trail and play area
    • Bartram's Mile North: Ramp connecting trail to crossing at Grays Ferry
      Bartram's Mile North: Ramp connecting trail to crossing at Grays Ferry
    • Bartram's Mile North: 49th Street section
      Bartram's Mile North: 49th Street section
    • Bartram's Mile: Botanic Avenue section
      Bartram's Mile: Botanic Avenue section
    • Bartram's Garden meadow trail
      Bartram's Garden meadow trail
    • Bartram Garden: Pedestrian-only trail along raised boardwalk in floodplain forest
      Bartram Garden: Pedestrian-only trail along raised boardwalk in floodplain forest
    • bartram s mile historic core 02
      bartram s mile historic core 02
    • Bartram's Mile South: 56th Street section
      Bartram's Mile South: 56th Street section
    • Bartram's Mile South: Section through PIDC site and riverfront
      Bartram's Mile South: Section through PIDC site and riverfront
    • Bartram's Mile South: 58th street section
      Bartram's Mile South: 58th street section
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Here are two possibilities for new life at sites on either end of Bartram's Garden:  To the north a creative reuse of the Streets Department site along a version of Botanic Avenue that actually lives up to its lush name, and to the south a public plaza at the end of 56th Street:

    • Rendering of Botanic Avenue with parkland and a new use for the Streets Department facility.
      Rendering of Botanic Avenue with parkland and a new use for the Streets Department facility.
    • Plaza at the end of 56th Street
      Plaza at the end of 56th Street
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During this early phase of design work, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation has been spending time on environmental remediation at sites along the future trail’s path. PIDC cleaned up underground pollution (to industrial development standards) at the Gypsum/Transmontaigne site at the southern end, and is now moving on to the old National Heat and Power site at the northern end.

These designs are still preliminary, so stay tuned for more opportunities this summer to offer your feedback to help shape the Bartram’s Mile Trail. (We'll keep you posted.) Meanwhile PennPraxis is all ears if you've got thoughts about what you see here. Send your feedback along via .

*PlanPhilly is an independent news gathering entity affiliated with PennPraxis.


About the author

Ashley Hahn, Editor, Eyes on the Street

Ashley writes and edits Eyes on the Street. She has a special interest in preservation, neighborhoods, and all things public – from policy to art. Ashley holds masters degrees in City and Regional Planning and Historic Preservation from PennDesign.

Ashley has lived in 12 zip codes that she can think of, including neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, New York and Philadelphia. She is proud to call 19147 home. 

Find Ashley on twitter @ashleyjhahn.


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