Dickinson Square Park renovations lead to improvements in Pennsport

parsons center thumbnailDickinson Square Park is a three-acre park in the middle of South Philadelphia’s Pennsport neighborhood, near the Delaware River waterfront.  Pennsport is an old neighborhood, known for the Mummer clubhouses along Second Street (known to the locals as 2 Street) and for its proximity to the Delaware waterfront shipping terminals and shopping centers, the 9th Street (Italian) Market, Fourth Street’s Fabric Row, I-95 and I-676 to the Walt Whitman Bridge to New Jersey, and the Sports Complex and XfinityLive entertainment venues.  Pennsport is, also, home to the S.S. United States, a former cruise liner that was the fastest and most prominent passenger ship of its day when it was built in the 1950s.  The S.S. United States sits anchored along the waterfront, across from the IKEA shopping center, waiting for a developer to renovate it to avoid the historic ship from being scrapped.  Hopefully a developer (preferably from Philadelphia, where the ship can be docked near the most historic square mile in America) will buy it for renovation, but in the meantime there is an organization, the S.S. United States Conservancy, that is raising money to keep it preserved.  Anyhow, Dickinson Square Park was once the location of the Pascal Iron Works and it sits between Moyamensing Avenue and Fourth Street, and Tasker and Morris Streets.  It is surrounded by large townhouses, including some upscale brownstone homes, making it feel a bit like South Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square because of the quality of upscale homes.  The new renovation adds a bit of Rittenhouse-style glamour, while still providing many opportunities for recreation.

While always a popular destination for relaxation and recreation, the park had become a little tired and frayed around the edges.  The local neighborhood groups, including the Friends of Dickinson Square Park, Dickinson Square West Civic Association, and the Pennsport Civic Association, had organized to renovate and upgrade much of the park.  They created a master plan and started renovations, with funds from city and state agencies, in 2011 that were completed last year.  The Friends of Dickinson Square Park have regular park clean-ups and other events, including a popular farmers market every Sunday in the warm weather, and outdoor movies, concerts, and festivals.  The renovation involved rebuilding the park’s interior walkways and playgrounds.  A small wooden building was removed while the Parsons (community) Center building, in the center, was renovated.  New benches, lights, bike racks, garbage cans, trees, game tables (with chess/checker boards), and landscaping were added.  Two new playgrounds were built in the middle of the park, with swings; slides; a see-saw; and the like, and new basketball courts were built on the southeast corner.

These improvements make the park more functional and attractive and will, likely, add to demand for housing in the neighborhood.  The surrounding blocks are experiencing some small-scale development, as well as, a larger development called Moyamensing Estates, a 15-townhouse development a block south of Dickinson Square Park on Moyamensing.  Also, the large Vare Elementary School, across from the park on Moyamensing, is scheduled to be closed by the School District and may be available soon for renovation into apartments, which has become common among decommissioned schools in South Philadelphia.  Just north of Pennsport, the Jefferson Square neighborhood has seen some major housing development near Jefferson Square Park, which is also being slowly renovated, and a new, 16-storey highrise apartment building is soon to be built along the waterfront near there, just south of the Dockside Condominiums.  A little to the west of Pennsport, the Passyunk Square neighborhood is experiencing lots of new development, especially along trendy Passyunk Avenue.  And, the area is served by mass-transit, including the Route 57 bus that goes to Center City and the large Whitman Plaza Shopping Center on Oregon Avenue (the one with the odd-looking bust of Walt Whitman out front near the sidewalk) and electric buses (buses powered by overhead wires) travel east along Morris Street from the Tasker/Morris subway station on the Broad Street Line and a soon-to-be-built library/health center at Broad and Morris Streets.

Pennsport is a great neighborhood to live in and the renovation of Dickinson Square Park adds a lot more amenities to the neighborhood.  Just around the corner from the park, Long & Foster has a listing of a two-bedroom townhouse at 217 Watkins Street.  This townhouse has a remodeled kitchen, a finished basement with laundry, and a backyard patio, and is listed for sale for $279,900, a reasonable price in this neighborhood, especially being around the corner from Dickinson Square Park.  If you are interested in this listing, and our regular Sunday afternoon open houses there, then you can click on the link above and if you are interested in buying or selling a home or investment property in the city, then please contact me at gabriel.gottlieb@lnf.com or check out my Long & Foster agent portal, here, or our Long & Foster Philly Center office, here.  You can, also, check out my Facebook realtor page, Gabriel G. Philly Realtor, and my twitter page, @GabrielGPhilaRE.  And, you can follow news in the neighborhood at the website of the Dickinson Square West Civic Association, here, and maybe on the Friends of Dickinson Square website, here (although this site is undergoing maintenance right now).  Also, you can look at my many pictures of the park and the neighborhood, below (including a picture of 217 Watkins Street).

Rendering of Dickinson Square Park master plan

Rendering of Dickinson Square Park master plan

Looking into Dickinson Square Park from the northwest corner, at Fourth and Tasker Streets

Looking into Dickinson Square Park from the northwest corner, at Fourth and Tasker Streets

Play area in the park

Play area in the park

Play area from a distance, looking towards the northeast

Play area from a distance, looking towards the northeast

The Parsons Center, in the middle of the park

The Parsons Center, in the middle of the park

Metal sculpture in the middle of the park

Metal sculpture in the middle of the park

Looking northwest, towards the game tables and the intersection of Fourth and Tasker Streets

Looking northwest, towards the game tables and the intersection of Fourth and Tasker Streets

Looking west towards the play area

Looking west towards the play area

Plaque in Dickinson Square Park

Plaque in Dickinson Square Park

Looking towards the northeast

Looking towards the northeast

Townhouses on Fourth Street

Townhouses on Fourth Street

Southwest corner of the park, at Fourth and Morris Streets

Southwest corner of the park, at Fourth and Morris Streets

Street signs at Fourth and Morris Streets

Street signs at Fourth and Morris Streets

Mural on Morris Street, across the street from the park

Mural on Morris Street, across the street from the park

Looking north up Fourth Street, towards Fabric Row, in Queen Village, and Center City

Looking north up Fourth Street, towards Fabric Row, in Queen Village, and Center City

Looking west down Tasker Street

Looking west down Tasker Street

Townhouses, including brownstones, on Tasker Street on the north side of the park

Townhouses, including brownstones, on Tasker Street on the north side of the park

New flowering plants in the park

New flowering plants in the park

Looking south towards the play area and the Parsons Center

Looking south towards the play area and the Parsons Center

Looking into the park from the northeast corner, at Moyamensing Avenue and Tasker Street

Looking into the park from the northeast corner, at Moyamensing Avenue and Tasker Street

Street signs at Moyamensing and Tasker

Street signs at Moyamensing and Tasker

Looking down the wide sidewalk on Moyamensing Avenue, on the park's eastern side

Looking down the wide sidewalk on Moyamensing Avenue, on the park’s eastern side

Vare Elementary School, across Moyamensing Avenue from Dickinson Square Park

Vare Elementary School, across Moyamensing Avenue from Dickinson Square Park

Route 57 bus, coming from Center City en route to Whitman Plaza Shopping Center

Route 57 bus, coming from Center City en route to Whitman Plaza Shopping Center

Looking north on Moyamensing, towards Society Hill

Looking north on Moyamensing, towards Society Hill

Southeast corner of Dickinson Square Park, at Moyamensing Avenue and Morris Street

Southeast corner of Dickinson Square Park, at Moyamensing Avenue and Morris Street

Overhead electrical lines for the electric bus on Morris Street

Overhead electrical lines for the electric bus on Morris Street

Pennsport banner on Moyamensing Avenue

Pennsport banner on Moyamensing Avenue

217 Watkins Street, around the corner from Dickinson Square Park

217 Watkins Street, around the corner from Dickinson Square Park

Future site of Moyamensing Estates, a development of 15 townhouses on Moyamensing Avenue

Future site of Moyamensing Estates, a development of 15 townhouses on Moyamensing Avenue

Pennsport Mall, just south of Dickinson Square Park and Watkins Street, on Moyamensing Avenue

Pennsport Mall, just south of Dickinson Square Park and Watkins Street, on Moyamensing Avenue

Mummers practicing on "2 Street" (courtesy of South Philly Vikings Mummers Club)

Mummers practicing on “2 Street” (courtesy of South Philly Vikings Mummers Club)

S.S. United States, docked on the Pennsport waterfront, awaits renovation (courtesy of the S.S. United States Conservancy)

S.S. United States, docked on the Pennsport waterfront, awaits renovation (courtesy of the S.S. United States Conservancy)

New home on Tasker Street, a half block from Dickinson Square Park

New home on Tasker Street, a half block from Dickinson Square Park

Another new home on Tasker Street, near the park

Another new home on Tasker Street, near the park

New construction on Fifth Street in Pennsport

New construction on Fifth Street in Pennsport

Part of the former Mt. Sinai Hospital has been renovated into apartments, a few blocks away from Dickinson Square Park

Part of the former Mt. Sinai Hospital has been renovated into apartments, a few blocks away from Dickinson Square Park

Jefferson Square Homes, near Dickinson Square Park

Jefferson Square Homes, near Dickinson Square Park

Pat's Steaks and the Center City skyline

Pat’s Steaks and the Center City skyline

Geno's Steaks and the Ninth Street (Italian) Market

Geno’s Steaks and the Ninth Street (Italian) Market

The Ninth Street (Italian) Market

The Ninth Street (Italian) Market

About gabrielcgottlieb

I am a real estate agent at Long & Foster Real Estate Center City and someone who likes to write about development and urban planning in the City of Philadelphia. Contact me at Gabriel.gottlieb@LNF.com if you are interested in buying or selling a home or investment property in Philadelphia.
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2 Responses to Dickinson Square Park renovations lead to improvements in Pennsport

  1. barbara louridas says:

    Wonderful article, great story about the past, current and future. thanks

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