March 29, 2020. This was the end of the second week of social distancing. Another month to go. Public parks like ours are officially open and the visitors are abiding by the rules— single joggers, dog walkers, and a few couples keeping a respectable distance from each other. A few families with children are there, huddled closely together and avoiding contact with other people. Ordinarily strangers smile at each other and sometimes strike up conversations. but that behavior seems to be a thing of the past. Even on a bright spring day no one is interested in interacting.

There is little traffic on I95 two blocks away, and even less traffic on Columbus Boulevard that runs directly in front of the entrance to the Park. Inolex, a nearby rendering plant, is closed. Energy Solutions at the refinery a few miles away has been closed for the past few months. The air smells fresh. It's always possible to smell the water of the river, but now there is the smell of clover and new grass, with an occasional whiff of disinfectant.

It's quiet. Most of the migrating birds are due to arrive next month and in early May.

In February an announcement was made that construction would soon begin on a 46,000 square foot Giant food store—on the site of what was originally proposed for the Foxwoods Casino. The site is just to the south of the Comcast offices on Reed Street, and a few blocks from Washington Avenue Green/Pier 53. THe plot is marked with wooden pegs and little flags and a small front loader has been there, idle, for the past few months. And still no news of what is happening to the K4 site which is in the immediate area of the Park. Everything is on hold for now.


The Earth Day event scheduled for April 19, 2020 has been cancelled, and will be rescheduled for Earth Day next year.


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

And here's the link to a podcast first aired on WHYY on June 14, 2018. It includes an interview with Susan McAninley and a description of the Pier 53 Project.

https://whyy.org/segments/a-quest-to-conjure-philadelphias-immigrant-past-at-pier-53/


All photos and artwork by Susan McAninley.