America · Conservation · Logistics · Travel

Maritime History Ecology and Recreation in Philadelphia and the Delaware River

The Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild maintains and sails historic ships to bring the past to the present. A non-profit organization that teaches and practices seamanship, traditional restoration, maritime culture, and sailing skills in a fun and team focused setting.

Phila ViewThe Schooner Diligence was designed and built by Joshua and Samuel Humphreys in Philadelphia in 1797 for the Revenue-Marine and later transferred to the Navy. Schooners like Diligence played a vital role in the development of the early Navy in defending American merchant ships from attacks by Britain, France and the Barbary pirates. The original Diligence served in the West Indies Squadron under John Barry, who was commanding the Frigate United States during the Quasi War with France in 1798-1800.

DiligenceVisit the Independence Seaport Museum and its Patriots and Pirates Exhibit

The Cruiser Olympia was launched in 1892 and is the oldest steel warship afloat in the world. It has some the first modern luxuries aboard warships, including refrigeration, a fresh water distiller, steam radiators for heat, electric lighting, and a blower-operated ventilation system. Olympia required a new breed of sailor specifically trained in steam-driven and electrically-powered technology.

Cruiser OlympiaThe Submarine Becuna (SS-319) was launched in 1944 and is similar-to the many subs built in Philadelphia. “Becky” is credited with sinking 3.5 Japanese merchant ships. During the Cold War, she trailed Soviet subs and served during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

The Washington Avenue Pier is one of the newest greenspaces on the Delaware. The park design honors its evolving role on the waterfront from shipbuilding to port-of-entry to naturalized finger pier, offering panoramic views of the Delaware River, Center City, the Benjamin Franklin and Walt Whitman bridges. An on-grade path allows visitors to reach the tip of the pier and touch the water and an elevated boardwalk lets you pass over wetland habitat below.

Washington PierLand Buoy is a 55’ spire by artist Jody Pinto featuring a 16’ spiral staircase to a platform that allows for views up and down the river. It also emits a soft blue light, acting as a beacon recalling the pier’s history as Philadelphia’s immigration station. Ecological enhancements include intertidal and riparian plantings, innovative stabilization methods and Interpretive signage relating the site’s history as the nation’s first navy yard and immigration entry station where over 1 million people entered the United States.

Pier 68 is a place to relax and enjoy the Philadelphia waterfront where you can learn about the tidal ecology of the Delaware River, its watershed, or engage in recreational fishing. Design elements include:

An Entrance Deck with whimsical painted poles and repurposed maritime bollards to create a distinctive gateway for the pier. Located just off the future trail extension, this space serves as a resting spot for those using the trail and as a place where shopping center visitors can quickly experience the Pier Park.

pier 68 fishingTree Canopy that begins to conceal the parking lot and traffic to the west.  These trees serve as a threshold, marking that visitors have crossed into a new environment. Along the southern edge of the pier, visitors will find picnic tables which can be used for casual meals or table-top games.

The Aquatic Cut, 4.5’ deep cut into the pier surface allows water to filter up through the lower wood deck to reveal the semi diurnal tidal activity of the Delaware River. Filled with native, aquatic plants, this space will be a focal point for educators and curious visitors, creating a microcosm of the Delaware River’s pre industrial ecology. The end of the pier features an Angled Lawn for lounging and sun-bathing.  With proximity to the water and restored concrete paving, the Water-Side Walk and the open Pier Terminus supports a variety of events and activities such as recreational fishing or gathering to watch holiday fireworks. Custom-designed wave-shaped benches create a unique and distinctive park element that visitors will remember long after they’ve left.

ferry-and-bridgeCruise the Delaware River north or south from Philadelphia and make your way to Chesapeake Bay by way of the C&D Canal or take the Ferry to Camden to visit local attractions like the battleship New Jersey.

Experiential Tourism in Philadelphia and on the Delaware River

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