Source: Porject for Public Spaces
Date: November, 2003
Byline: Michelle Smith
Hall of Shame Nominee
16th and Arch Streets
Submitted by: michelle smith
Love Park was once a national destination for skateboarders, before the city started confiscating skate boards and shooing away anyone who is not sitting quietly on a bench.
Why It Doesn't Work
Love Park (officially Kennedy Plaza) is located at the foot of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which is headed by the Philadelphia Art Museum. It has never been an especially attractive park, but was known for its "love" statue and fountain. In recent years Love Park gained national notoriety as an excellent place to skateboard and was even featured in many a video game. Unfortunately, the powers that be decided to put an end to any kind of fun in the park. Park rangers patrolled the park and confiscated boards. Ultimately, the park received what was billed as a "facelift." Benches and ugly pink planters were placed throughout the park to ruin the clean sharp edges that drew skateboarders to the park. The City has also decided that sitting quietly will be the only permitted use of the park. Philadelphia police officers patrol the park and shoo away anyone who is not sitting on a bench. Sitting on ledges is no longer permitted. And kite fliers have been sent packing as well.
What Puts Love Park in the Hall of Shame?
Access & Linkages: Access is what makes this park such an amenity. It is located in the heart of the central business district, in close proximity to numerous transit stops and stations. Its notoriety as a skateboard mecca drew youth from beyond the city limits.
Comfort & Image: The "improvements" have ruined the park as a comfortable place. The park was never particularly attractive, but it was a nice place to people watch — and skateboarder watch — as local workers ate their lunches. The uncomfortable benches, ugly pink planters and constant police presence make users feel on edge.
Uses & Activities: Use is now limited to sitting quietly on a designated bench. Police shoo away those who sit on ledges and those who try to fly kites.
Sociability: Two person benches are not amenable to larger groups who meet at lunchtime.