Philly opens its redesigned Sister Cities Park

Posted: May 14, 2012

Philadelphia unveiled its newly redesigned Sister Cities Park yesterday on Logan Square at 18th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway, just across from the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul.

Though the ribbon cutting to the 1.3-acre, $4.9 million park took place Thursday, the grand opening is Saturday. The park is part of a $20.9 million makeover of public spaces on the Parkway, coinciding with the opening of much-anticipated Barnes Foundation.

The park, once mostly grass and trees with a few stone monuments, now offers a children’s garden, stream and boat pond, a Milk & Honey Cafe, and a satellite office of the Independence Visitor Center. The fountain, embedded in bluestone, commemorates Philadelphia’s Sister Cities program connecting Philadelphia with 10 cities worldwide.

With Mayor Nutter, City Council President Darrell L. Clarke and other dignitaries on hand for the ceremonies, the Friends Select School Choir performed and Russell Byers Charter School students sent wooden boats sailing across the pond.

The new park design, a project spearheaded by the Center City District, a civic improvement group, was carried out by DIGSAU architects, Studio|Bryan Hanes, and Pennoni Associates Inc.

Two bronze figurative sculptures were restored by the city’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy. The sculpture of Don Diego de Gardoqui was a gift from the Spanish government to the City of Philadelphia in 1977. The sculpture of Thomas Fitzsimons, the Irish-American merchant, statesman and signer of the Constitution, was a gift to the city in 1946 from the Society of the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick.

Sister Cities Park was originally dedicated in 1976 to recognize Philadelphia’s participation in the global Sister Cities Program. The program’s goal was to foster peace, and economic ties through official city-to-city relationships. Philadelphia’s sister cities are Florence, Italy; Tel Aviv, Israel; Kobe, Japan; Abruzzo, Italy; Torun, Poland; Tianjin, China; Incheon, Korea; Douala, Cameroon; Nizhny Novgorod, Russia; and Aix-en-Provence, France. The program is run by the International Visitors Center.

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