Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Docking on the Schuylkill River

Some days it feels as if the Schuylkill Banks (as the Center City riverfront is now called) will never be finished. Then some huge piece of machinery lumbers onto the asphalt recreation path and a new amenity appears. This time it's a pair of boat docks: One went in last month at the foot the Walnut Street Bridge, the other at Bartram's Garden. The docks are designed to handle small tour boats and pleasure craft. Sometime late next summer, after a third dock is installed at the Waterworks, you'll be able to take the Cabin Cruiser for a six-mile, round-trip spin on the Schuylkill River.

The Schuylkill River Development Corp., which raised $615,000 to pay for the first two docks, actually has much grander plans in store. Since few people are fortunate enough to keep a motorized pleasure craft tied up in Center City, they are looking to hire a tour-boat operator to run scheduled cruises. By spring, you may be able to buy a ticket for a moonlight champagne cruise on the Schuylkill, or hire a boat for a wedding reception. They also want the operator to offer daily, hour-long trips for school groups. Once people get used to thinking of the lower river as a place to play, there are any number of ways it can be used. Drop some ideas here, or send them to the SRDC.

Unfortunately, things are not exactly cruising along with the Schuylkill Banks' landscaping. You could outfit a new Rittenhouse Square faster. Construction workers were suppose to wrap up the riverfront landscaping in October. The project involves softening the edges of the asphalt path with plantings, seating and other amenities. But workers were nowhere near being done when last month's heavy rains came. The flooding destroyed the stone work at what is supposed to be the park's centerpiece - a stepped amphitheater going in near the Market Street ramp.

Now the contractor and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are haggling over who should pick up the tab for re-building the tiers of stone steps. Don't expect a fully landscaped park before next spring.

Incidentally, in case you've been wondering how to get onto the docks from the land side - you haven't lost your mind. There are no gates. They will be installed later this month. SRDC officials promise.

7 Comments:

Blogger mark said...

The landscaping phase has been a terrible disappointment to me. The grass is nonexistent, half of the shrubs and trees became dormant in August due to the summer drought. Whoever is in charge of the landscaping phase is doing a horrible job.

The boat cruises from Bartram Gardens to the Water Works look promising but that stretch of river could also you some tender loving care. There are giant overgrown weed trees growing out into the river from the retaining walls along the Schuylkill Expressway. The Schuylkill Expressway retaining walls themselves are disgustingly filthy. If I'm cruising down the river I want it to be a pleasant visually appealing experience, I don't want to look at wild trees, soot, and accumulated dirt. Hopefully they will address the appearance eventhough it's not SRDC's responsibility.

6:43 PM  
Blogger J. Blobbom said...

I hope they add canoe and kayak rental!

9:46 PM  
Blogger The Good Reverend said...

I had the opportunity to take one of the cruises from Bartram's Gardens a couple months ago, and even with the Banks in a state of general disarray it was a fun, fresh perspective on the city.

7:45 AM  
Blogger rex said...

Unfortunately as a lifelong Philadlephian I think we are going to have to give this project plenty of time to fully come together. It's amazing to me the slow motion this city moves in, quicksand like. Chicago would have 100 people working on this project. Everytime I have been down to Schuylkill Banks I've seen maybe a half dozen workers max,on duty.


More negativity. Since Philadlephia is about 30 years behind Boston, Manhattan and Chicago in just about all phases including recreation and river activities you would think the 30 year snooze may have some benefits to Philaldephia. Open available space to build modern treasures along Schuylkill Banks. A cocoon like learning/planning period where it took in the great works of other cities around the globe and implemented into the cityscape of Philly... So why are we subjected to the bland suburban like Edgewater Apartments and the ultra coservative blah conversion of the 2200 Lofts(Belber Building) Why does everything in Philaldelphia have to be painted a dull shade of beige?

Cira Centre is an amazing addition but for an area with such amazing potential I've been underwhelmed by and large.

7:17 PM  
Blogger danny said...

Will the lower section of the river eventually be open to public rowing, kayaking etc?

Sightly off topic.

I just got back from visiting Toronto and what a great city that is. I asked people up there when Toronto turned the corner and nearly all of them said after the CN Tower and observation deck was built.It made Toronto a Canadian must see destination. You could probably say the same thing for Seattle and its Space Needle.The Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas is the biggest tourist draw in the entire city, thats a mouthful.

Point being is it time for Philly to create their vertical beacon, a modified version of these observation towers? Wouldn't a perfect spot be on one of those parking lots running parralel to Schuylkill Banks, 24th/25th + Arch for example.

Is Philly a sky tower type city or is it above the gimmickry?

1. Adds a piece of modern vertical architecture to the cityscape.

2.Enhances a thriving tourism market going on in Philly.

3.Observation public restaurant/night club looking out over Fairmount park, Center City etc.

4.Best of all it adds signifigantly to the skyline.

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi ##name##, I've been working on the backyard a few years. We finally added a pond and a waterfall but I am certainly openlandscaping to some tips on how to make our backyard look great for this spring and summer.

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi ##name##, I've been working on the backyard a few years. We finally added a pond and a waterfall but I am certainly openlandscaping to some tips on how to make our backyard look great for this spring and summer.

3:05 PM  

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