Opened in 2011 and designed by James Corner Field Operations, Race Street Pier is the newest space along the Philadelphia waterfront to open to the public as a component of the Master Plan for the Central Delaware. Now the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that work is underway to bring new life to Pier 53—once Philadelphia's arrival point for new immigrants—with a public park that will be part of the plan to create park land every half-mile along the six-mile stretch of waterfront.
Phila. counterpart to Ellis Island will get recognition
By Jennifer Lin - The Philadelphia Inquirer Saturday, Jun 1, 2013
To look at Pier 53 today, a thin finger of tree-covered land stretching into the tidal waters of the Delaware River, you would never guess that this was the front door to America for a million immigrants from Europe.
From 1873 to 1915, steamships for the American Line dropped off steerage passengers from places like Italy, Poland, and Germany.
From there, newcomers sought out relatives in South Philadelphia, or boarded the Pennsylvania Railroad for coal and steel towns to the north and west.
"It was our own little Ellis Island," said Scott Quitel, a principal of Applied Ecological Services, a land-use consulting firm in Conshohocken.
A year from now, Pier 53 will have a new look that acknowledges its history while maintaining its natural contours.
The Delaware River Waterfront Corp. (DWRC), a nonprofit steward of the city's master plan for developing the central Delaware waterfront, has marshaled $1.5 million in public and private grants to transform Pier 53 into a park.