November 18, 2015. The third grade class from Germantown Friends School visited the Park. Under the direction of teacher Diana Gomez, the children learned the history of Pier 53 and its history as an immigration destination in the late nineteeth and early twentieth centuries.

Jody Pinto was there to tell her family story of her immigrant grandparents and to talk about the Land Buoy—her sculpture at the end of the pier.

The children studied passenger tags and the stories of real passengers who arrived at Pier 53. And...all the students were dressed as immigrants. Here are some of the pictures.

The waterfront had once been described as 'the retreating glacier of Philadelphia's industrial past'. It is now gradually returning to its natural state with a series of parks and trails.

Washington Avenue Green is getting larger. Natural Lands Trust, in partnership with the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), has recently acquired a 100-foot swath of land, as well as Pier 56 (adjacent to Pier 53) along with the riparian rights. The total acquisition of 9.5 acres will make possible the continuance of the riverfront trail set back 100 feet from the river's edge and continued environmental restoration.

The trail continues. Immediately to the south, on the site adjacent to the Sheet Metal Workers' property south of Reed Street (the former site of the proposed Foxwoods Casino) the plan is to continue this extension. Developer Bart Blatstein, who controls the site, said on March 18, 2015 that he is also working with the Natural Lands Trust to set aside the next segment of the riverfront trail. Read the story from PlanPhilly.

DRWC and Natural Lands Trust are now in the process of finalizing similar agreements of sale with Tower Investments for the acquisition of 100 feet of land plus associated riparian lands from the parcel in the middle of the two completed acquisitions.

Read more on DRWC's website: One step closer to a brand new bike trail.

Pier 68 Grand Opening. On October 1, Mayor Michael Nutter cut the ribbon officially opening the formerly abandoned pier to the public. It is the southernmost anchor of a string of piers planned for the southern Delwaware River, connected by contiguous wetlands and a trail along the water's edge.

For more information, check out the News/Events page on this site.

Plan Philly has a detailed description of the new park. Read all about it here.

Pier 70. In 2012 five acres of land and 11 acres of riparian lands at the end of Pier 70 Boulevard were purchased by Natural Lands Trust. The two sites (Pier 53 and Pier 70) now serve as bookends for the proposed southern Delaware River Trail, a permanent .7-mile multi-use, recreational trail along the river. The area is planned to include mixed-use developments by private builders.

Ongoing at Washington Avenue Green is the Pier 53 Project—a historical study of the immigrants who arrived at the Pier from 1876 to the 1920's, their stories, and the stories of their descendants. Each story is part of a mosaic that contributes to the history of Philadelphia and its waterfront, and ultimately to the history of immigration in the United States.

Here's the link to the Pier 53 Project page on this site. Pier 53 Project 

Archival photo of wharves from the Free Library of Philadelphia; Photo directly above by Kathy Martin;

All other photos and artwork by Susan McAninley.