The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation gave visitors a sneak peek of Pier 53 this past weekend. Though some are lamenting the fact that a piece of Philadelphia's wilderness is forever gone, and rightly so, the new pier park will look to harness its 'Tom Sawyer' side as well as showcase its impressive ecological habitats and its tremendous history as a starting point for a generation of brand new Americans — all while sprucing it up and making it more accessible for everyone. Sounds like a good deal to us! You're only going to have to wait a little longer to enjoy these scenes along the southern waterfront, Pier 53 looks to open sometime in August. Although still under construction, you could get a sense of the layout and amenities of the site. The supports for the large wooden boardwalk are visibly rising from the water parallel to the pier. The foundation for the "Land Buoy" — Jody Pinto's work of art at the tip of the pier — can also be seen sprouting. There will be a beach area and many of the trees what were removed from "Tom Sawyer's Island" will be placed back on the pier along with new plantings as well as a new layer of soil to aid new plant growth.
Along with the tours of the construction site, visitors were given lanyards with boarding passes of actual people who passed through Pier 53's immigration station. It was a subtle touch but helped create a personal connection to the history of the pier. Susan McAninley is running the "Pier 53 Project" — a research endeavor that looks to explore the ancestry of those who believe their family members may have passed through the gates at Pier 53. There were also various stations showcasing fish found in the nearby waters, "treasures" found in and around the pier and other ecological happenings on the pier.
· DRWC Releases Designs for Pier 53 Park [Curbed Philly]
· Washington Avenue Green [Official]
· Pier 53 Official Site [DRWC]