University City’s Clark Park is a three-block long, green oasis in the middle of lower University City. It sits in the middle of Spruce Hill, at 43rd Street & Baltimore Avenue, extending down to Woodland Avenue, into the middle of the campus of the University of the Sciences. It is more than 9 acres and consists of three sections: Park “A”, which is a landscaped section along Baltimore Avenue, Park “B”, which is an athletic area, with playgrounds and a playing field in the middle of a large depression called the “Bowl”, and Park “C”, which is a landscaped section with playgrounds, on a wedge-shaped piece of land ending at Woodland Avenue and surrounded largely by University of the Sciences buildings. The park has huge London plane (sycamore) trees. It has a series of running paths, with benches along them, and is intersected by Chester & Kingsessing Avenues. It is a major gathering place in University City, surrounded mostly by homes, a little bit of retail, and the USC campus. The park hosts numerous sporting events, theatrical events, and farmers’ markets, throughout the year.
The site of Clark Park was once dominated by the Mill Creek, which was later converted to an underground aqueduct (the Bowl is the result of the aqueduct). A large military hospital, called the Satterlee Hospital, was built next to the creek in 1861, along Baltimore Avenue, and during the Battle of Gettysburg, in 1863, thousands of injured soldiers were brought there for treatment. Most of the soldiers were brought there by way of boats along the Mill Creek. The land was covered with tents to house the beds of the wounded soldiers. The hospital closed down after the war and the land was used as a dumping ground until 1895, when its owner at the time, bank president and neighboring estate owner Clarence H. Clark, decided that the city should convert the land into a park in order to settle a property tax dispute over the streets that run through it. The “A” park was created in 1895, and the other parcels were created three years later in 1898. By then, the land was being surrounded by the attractive Victorian style homes that University City is famous for. The park was renovated in 1961, with many new athletic facilities added.
The local community organization, the Friends of Clark Park, has spearheaded a major renovation effort, the largest since the 1961 renovations. The new renovations are starting in the “A” park along Baltimore Avenue. This section has been finished, with new sidewalks, benches, lights, trees, and attractive landscaping. The “B” section, with the large bowl, will be the next section to be renovated. Plans are still being drawn up, with a serious examination of the landscaping of the bowl, which becomes like a dust bowl during dry, windy weather. The “C” park will be the last phase for renovation. That renovation will require approval from the University of the Sciences, which apparently has jurisdiction over that section. Friends of Clark Park are hoping to install a new modern sculpture called “Scheherezade”, by sculptor Joe Mooney, in “C” park. And soon, the sidewalk on 43rd Street will be replaced with a wider sidewalk, to accommodate the very popular Clark Park Farmers’ Market, and will have advanced storm water drainage underneath.
These improvements will add to the already popular neighborhood of Spruce Hill, which has a mix of middle-class families and college students. Baltimore Avenue is continuing to see new businesses open up, along with new lighting and landscaping in its traffic triangles, and Woodland Avenue is just beginning to see some new businesses open up in a previously sparsely-occupied shopping district. If you are interested in finding a home or investment property in this busy area of the city, feel free to contact me at email@example.com or sign onto my Facebook realtor page, Gabriel G. Philly Realtor, or our Condo Shop Facebook page, here. For more info on Clark Park’s renovation, I have a link to the Friends of Clark Park’s website, and a link to Joe Mooney’s website, as well. And you can view pictures that I took from two recent walks through the neighborhood, below.