Philadelphia Looks to Revive its Champs-Elysees

“More Park, Less Way” is the title of a new plan to revitalize Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which was fashioned after Paris's famous boulevard but falls short by almost any measure, including its unwelcoming pedestrian environment.
February 8, 2013, 11am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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It turns out that dramatic nighttime illumination isn't the only way in which Philadelphia has fashioned itself after the City of Lights. The city's mile-long Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which was designed by French landscape architect Jacques Gréber with the Champs-Elysees as model, was appropriately named for a man who had close connection to both cities.

Nicole Anderson discusses a new plan for the parkway that seeks to improve accessibility and create more of a community amenity. "PennPraxis, along with government officials, presented a new plan, 'More Park, Less Way,' this week at the Academy of Natural Science that seeks to revitalize the Parkway, stretching from City Hall to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, by increasing activity through the development of green space, improved pedestrian and bike access, and enticing programming and amenities."
"PennPraxis zeroes in on four specific sites along the boulevard to upgrade and redevelop into parkland, including Eakins Oval, Iroquois site, Von Colln Memorial Field, and Park Towne Place," explains Anderson. "The vision goes beyond just adding green space. It is centered on bringing events, art installations, and food kiosks to the parks. The report states that 70,000 people live blocks away from the Parkway, and the hope is that this new mix of activities, amenities, and improvements will engage the nearby community on a daily basis."

"This plan comes at an appropriate time when the city has made significant improvements to the streetscape, and a number of cultural and civic projects along the boulevard have come to fruition, including the opening of the new Barnes Foundation. With only a few years left in Mayor Nutter’s term, the administration is eager to implement these recommendations."

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Published on Thursday, February 7, 2013 in The Architect's Newspaper
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