The 2015 Better Philadelphia challenge winners have a new take on a scrappy little island in the Delaware, now home to a motley crew of drab refineries, petroleum tanks, cargo containers, and apparently a pair of American bald eagles. Petty Island, the 292-acre island that sits in the waters off Port Richmond, is steeped in history and lore alike, with tales of Quakers, pirates, and an Irishman who would be king.
This little spit of land has seen a whole lot of action: Quaker Elizabeth Kinsey supposedly made a deal to buy the island from Lenni-Lenape Indian Chiefs around 1678, William Penn then owned it, apparently Blackbeard the Pirate docked his ship on it, and "during the second half of the 19th century, an Irish immigrant managed a farm there and eventually declared himself king of the island." There were plans for the island to house an amusement park, a 2004 proposal would have seen the island host a hotel/resort complex and conference center, a golf course, retail space and 750 upscale homes, and now a group of students from Cornell University propose to build a sky farm on it.
The FOODWORX proposal, crafted by Robert Hanifin, Akshali Gandhi, Li-Yu Pan, Chen Sun, and Lishutong Zhang — all master degree candidates in either landscape architecture or regional planning, involves a mix of agricultural sustainability and riverfront redevelopment. It includes "the creation of an agricultural college, seed bank, sky farm, discovery center, and farmers market on the island while upgrading the Philadelphia riverfront with food distribution warehouses, marina, common buildings, and recreational fields."
And, finally: FOODWORX imagines a self-sufficient and prepared Philadelphia over the course of the next 100 years.