You can escape from constant car horns, cement buildings, and noisy restaurants without leaving the city. Philadelphia has a few parks and green spaces that can be your oasis. Collins Park and the green roof at the Free Library of Philadelphia are two places that are in Center City Philadelphia, and they are very easily accessible.
Collins park is located on Chestnut Street. It is a small spacious area filled with trees, bushes, shrubs, and even greenery growing up the walls, and there is a water sculpture that also functions as a small pond in the warmer seasons. You can grab your favorite book and sit on any of the benches among the nature as you watch all the birds and squirrels roaming around the area. There are even a few tables in the middle of the space that can be used to enjoy your lunch while enjoying the atmosphere. As you walk around, you may notice the gates at the front and back of Collins Park are beautifully sculpted metal depicting the nature and wildlife that can be found from within the space. Collins Park is a short car ride away from Temple University in North Philadelphia and, after you are done relaxing in the space you can stroll over to the few stores located right across the street.
The park is filled, not only with people enjoying the outdoors, but also with growing greenery, plants, and animals. “We want to preserve it, and keep it as an urban oasis,” says the Vice President of Planning and Development and Executive Director of the Center City District Foundation, Nancy Goldenberg. “We have done some improvements to increase the visibility of it, because a lot of people still don’t know it exists.” She says the park has added more seating as well as lights going up the trees to make it’s presence more known. Goldenberg wants the park to remain representative of an urban oasis. The space looks small from the front gate, but as you make your way towards the fountain you really feel like you have left the city.
Another great space is located at the Free Library of Philadelphia. They created the first public green roof in Philadelphia in September of 2008. The space features a large patio area where you can hold events, and two green areas on each side of the patio. One side you are welcome to roam down the dirt path lined by the different plants. There are multiple plants in the green spaces that are marked by little markers. Along with the view of the plants, you can take a look out at the city and the many surrounding buildings. Currently, there is not much to look at in the winter season. “In the summer you can see bees and other animals and birds that feel comfortable coming up here and resting,” says the Cluster Administrator for the Free Library of Philadelphia,Veronica Britto. It’s helping to create the environment and grow the plants.” She says that in the warmer weather the roof top is full of vibrant colors from all the plants that grow there. The green roof is open to the public, but due to a small security staff the door to the roof may be locked. Britto did mention that you can request to visit the green roof at any time by giving the Free Library of Philadelphia a call.
Green spaces are great to escape to while living in the city, but they are also beneficial to the growing city. Project Evergreen explains some of the advantages of urban places creating green spaces. One of the most important advantages of having green spaces in cities is the promotion of cleaner water. These green spaces are preventing nitrates from the soil leaching into the water supply, and they are reducing surface water runoff. These green spaces are keeping harmful chemicals from getting mixed into our waterways. Another major advantage of green spaces is the reduction of heat buildup. Project Evergreen mentions data that was recorded in the Madison Square Mall parking lot in Alabama. It was recorded that the asphalt of the parking lot was 31 degrees cooler in the shade of a tree than the surrounding exposed asphalt. These green spaces are an escape from the city as well as a benefit for our environment overall.
Both green spaces have nice views that you can see by watching the video below.
According to DiscoverPHL, Philadelphia was named one of the world’s ten best cities for parks by Frommer’s. San Francisco was named the greenest city in North America by the Green Cities Index. Below, is a short comparison of Philadelphia to San Francisco.
Philadelphia has some amazing green spaces that the public is able to escape to. These spaces are creating an oasis as well as bettering our environment. Next time you want to see some green instead of buildings, try to make your way to Collins Park or the Free Library of Philadelphia.
All audio and visuals were created and collected by Holly Martin.