Favorite Spot: Ed Bacon’s Greenways
Neighborhood: Society Hill
Address: St. Joseph’s Way, St. Peter’s Way, and Lawrence Court, between Locust and Pine, 3rd and 5th Streets
I am: a planner, preservationist, writer, maker, grower, and beagle enthusiast.
Years in Philly: On and off since 2005. Happily on again since 2011.
Current Home: Bella Vista
My love note: As a rule, I don’t have a lot of love for modernist, urban-renewal era projects but Ed Bacon’s greenways are an exception. Under Bacon’s leadership at the Planning Commission, Society Hill was partly razed and partly preserved using federal urban renewal funds. Today the greenways Bacon designed in Society Hill show off both sides of this history in spades, as 1960s modernism abuts Federal-era rowhouses.
For me, a walk down Bacon’s paths is like a meditation. It’s a quiet experience of heightened sensory awareness. I tune in to appreciate the light, the birds, the textures, or the happenings in someone’s yard. I go out of my way to route myself through the greenways day and night.
A Walk: Start at 4th and Locust and walk east down St. James Place to I.M. Pei’s mod townhouses surrounding a circular garden. Then turn right (south) to walk down St. Joseph’s Way. There’s a park nook to your left and an historic interior court of houses to the right. Cross Spruce and St. Joseph’s Way becomes St. Peter’s Way. St. Peter’s leads you through another mixed historic and modern block to Three Bears Park (aka Delancey Park), a space designed by John Collins. Three Bears is a leafy mid-block treasure tucked between Cypress and Delancey streets. The park has a small play structure, mature plantings, plenty of benches, and a small sculpture of three bears covered in chalk markings. It’s at once a peaceful and playful space and on weekends it is packed with families. You could continue straight down St. Peter’s Way to Pine Street or hang a right on lovely Delancey. Cross 4th Street and walk down a narrow alley (Lawrence Court Walk) that looks like a dead-end – it isn’t. Keep meandering through Lawrence Court (smelling the roses if they’re in bloom) or turn south onto 4th Street.
Here’s a map to help you out