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Welcome to The Benjamin Franklin Parkway Tour
City of Brotherly "Love"
Benjamin Franklin Parkway is Philadelphia's Champs Elysees — or its Pennsylvania Avenue. True, there is no Arc de Triomphe or White House, but there are such fine buildings as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Rodin Museum and the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul. Fountains, small parks, statues and monuments all lend a formality that gives the Parkway its own special aura. This, of course, was not an accident. Photographs of the area before World War I show the cathedral and a stretch of road from Logan Square to Fairmount Park and a mass of buildings with no space at all between them extending from Logan Square to what is now John F. Kennedy Plaza, also known as LOVE Park, conceived by Edmund Bacon.
By 1919 a stretch of Parkway was visible, but none of the public buildings we know today had yet been erected. The designers of the Parkway were Paul Cret and Jacques Greber, who were also responsible for the design of the Rodin Museum. By 1935 the Franklin Institute, the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Museum of Art at the head of the avenue, and the Rodin Museum could be seen. Paul Cret was also the architect of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, and it was he who designed the central plaza, the pool and the entrances to Rittenhouse Square. The Parkway is a place of parades. In September there is "Super Sunday," with all the public institutions participating and Philadelphians, usually a quarter-million or more of them, joining in. In recent years the Parkway has been the starting point for a bicycle race which is part of the international racing circuit.
In the beginning the Parkway was an architect's and a planner's dream — something breathtakingly bold for the staid old city. Then it became a cultural mecca — a center for museums and educational institutions. Today the Parkway stands as a triumph in urban planning. Anyone viewing the sweep of the Parkway from the Art Museum steps may be compelled, like Rocky, to raise one's hands, and share in that triumph.
Learn More: Parkway Museums District