The first weekend of the 12th Walk Around Philadelphia is complete!
We had a pretty fabulous first weekend, starting with a great virtual event Wednesday & happy hour hang at the exhibit at Cherry Street Pier on Thursday before setting out for the first three segments of our exploration of the city’s border.
And a great new article in the Philadelphia Inquirer to send us off!
Below’s a quick recap of our first three walk segments…
… but first here’s a bit of what it looked like upstairs at Cherry Street Pier.
The Walk Around Philadelphia exhibit is open anytime that the pier is open:
- Daily till 9pm
- Fridays & Saturdays till 11pm
- We’re there in-person every Thursday 5-7pm
(Snacks & beverages available from CSP vendors)
We’d love to see you there for any of the upcoming Thursday hangouts! Please invite your friends; the exhibit is a great way to introduce folks to Walk Around Philadelphia!
Day 1: Baltimore Ave towards the Airport
We started off at 61st & Baltimore with a plan to follow the city’s edge counter-clockwise.
This took us south, through Cobbs Creek Park and past Mt Moriah Cemetery…
This took us past the historic Blue Bell Inn, which was recently damaged by a runaway SEPTA trolley that smashed into it…
We continued south, past new infrastructure projects, meadows full of buzzing bees, and past the site of the Clearview Superfund toxic waste site which is now being remediated…
A highlight of this segment was running into Josh, the project manager for the Environmental Protection Agency that is running the cleanup effort at Clearview…
Josh was super generous with his time, and gave us an impromptu presentation + Q&A session on the work being done at the landfill.
It was wild to learn some tidbits about this project, like how a nursery had been planted nearby in 2014, to prep the cuttings that would then become the new plantings years later, and how these trees were expected to last just a few decades but the seeds (and nuts) that would form the next generation of forest were already planted at their feet.
Thanks for taking the time to talk w/ us Josh!
And thanks EPA for your work on behalf of our neighbors!
Another person to thank is Walk Around Philadelphia veteran perimeter-walker Stephen B…
Stephen has become one of our ‘Trail Angels’ – he came out to intercept the group of walkers and surprised us at the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge with snacks!
There were bananas, clementines, and home-made cookies. What a gift!
If you’d like to help support the walk by being a Trail Angel sometime, drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org
(Note: being a Walk Around Philadelphia Trail Angel takes patience, & flexibility in addition to a penchant for hospitality, and it’s helpful if you can read a map and have your own vehicle. Although Stephen made it out on the bus after getting a flat tire on his bike! Now that’s dedication…)
Once we made it all the way into the refuge, we took another little break at the visitor center before setting off along the Darby Creek section of the border which cuts right through the refuge.
It’s quite a contrast going from the lush green of the wildlife refuge to the pavement & the not-so pedestrian-friendly zones at the airport…
… but we all made it safely…
… and were delighted by the day’s adventures!
Day 2: Around the airport
For Day 2, our group met, as per-usual, in the B/C baggage claim at the airport.
This is where, my How Philly Moves “permanent” exhibit was displayed for over a decade.
In past walks, I’d used the wall of photographs of diverse Philadelphians who love to dance to contrast a bit with our (still mostly-white) pool of perimeter-walk participants to invite contemplation about what barriers to access to this project might be and how they might be overcome.
But everything is impermanent, and that’s exhibit’s now in storage until we find a new home for it.
The big giant 85,000 sq ft mural is still there though, spanning six facades of the parking garages.
It was named one of the nation’s best public art projects by Americans for the Arts back in the day, and I’m always so tickled that my two biggest projects (the walk and this mural) actually intersect in physical space, right here.
Before we could get to this perspective of it though, we had a long and hot 11 miles to walk to circumnavigate the entire airport.
The perimeter of Philadelphia cuts right across the runways, so on this day we were only actually on the perimeter itself at two points:
- Right between the older airport terminals (in Philadelphia) and the new Terminal A-West International terminal (NOT in Philadelphia)
- Right between Fort Mifflin (in Philadelphia) and the Sunoco facilities on Hog Island (NOT in Philadelphia.)
The rest of our adventure was a big detour into Tinnicum Township.
(Worth it. Especially if your name’s Chloe…)
A definite highlight of Day 2 was another amazing trail-angel intercept, this time by experienced perimeter-walkers Sam & Rebecca.
They found us out in what feels like the middle of nowhere and were waiting with some delicious treats….
… and they also brought two big jugs of cool water and some ice to refill our water bottles. Super great on this hot hot day.
Thank you friends!
Day 3: Airport towards Navy Yard
The walk starts before the walk starts… and by that I mean that the Walk Around Philadelphia experience starts the minute that you set out of your door with a goal to join neighbors in exploring the city’s edge in a spirit of curiosity and discovery…
… here two of our crew find each other on the train to the rendezvous.
They’ve never met before, but share the instant easy kinship that comes when you’re setting out on this adventure together.
Instead of the boring old “What do you do?” type question, it’s easy to get into more interesting conversations with things like:
- “How did you find out about the walk?”
- “Have you done any of the segments already?”
- “What do you know about where we’re going today?”
And from there, conversation flows easily…
This segment is the only one where our start point is the same as yesterday’s start point… we’re back in the airport baggage claim.
But this time, in stead of looping around the airport, we’re heading in the other direction, which takes us across the economy parking lots and the Platt Bridge into the Navy Yard…
Higlights of this day include the wild view from the top of the bridge, and walking by the TastyKake factory…
We were also lucky that one of our walkers, Grisel, happens to work for the Navy right here in the Navy Yard, and was able to give us a bit of extra information about her work and the site.
Grisel wasn’t the only walker with a personal connection to the Navy Yard…
Another walker, Kate, who is a landscape architect, had helped design and install a green roof project on top of one of the buildings in the URBN campus and was thrilled to see that vegetation still seemed healthy up there.
We had a great lil break, taking advantage of some of the lovely public spaces at the Navy Yard, and just when we thought we were mostly done with the day’s adventures…
… we stumbled upon the giant installation of inflatable bounce attractions that happen to be set up at the Navy Yard for a few weeks…
This had of course been advertised, and I’d seen a headline in the press somewhere, but I totally wasn’t expecting it and it was quite a sight to stumble across and a delightful new experience of the Navy Yard.
Even on my 12th time walking the full perimeter of the city, it never fails to surprise me!
We made it as far east as we could in the Navy Yard, and then looped around to our end point, where we split up with some sharing rides home and others lingering for a moment of decompression at the hotel bar.
What a day! and what a weekend!
Lil vascular update: so far so good…
For those of you who followed my recent dramatic health update, the good news is that things still seem stable. My weird ankle still seems ok and healed up for now, with only a lil twinge of pain on Monday evening. Waaaay better than bleeding all over the floor or having an open ulcer situation. Fingers crossed for the rest of the walk!
Weekend 2 is waitlisted
Weekend 2 will take us up the Delaware River segment of the border, but each group is pretty full at this point. You can always hop on the waitlist if you’d like to join a particular segment.
Bonus walks added
We’ve added bonus walks from Cherry Street Pier on Sept 23 that will cover some of the same ground as Weekend 2’s Fri & Sat’s segments.
Spots still available to join us around the northeast!
While weekend #4 is also at capacity, there’s still some remaining slots to join us on Sept 8/9/10!
Join us for the next steps…
- You can find a few more pics on the @WalkAroundPhiladelphia instagrarghm account.
- We’re online every Wed at 6pm via Zoom to talk about the project
- Join us in-person upstairs at Cherry Street Pier 5-7 on Thursdays
- You’re invited to special closing events in W. Philly on the 17th and at Cherry Street Pier on Sept 23rd.
- If you’re inspired to support my work, you can always do so here via my website or via the Walk’s fiscal sponsor. I’d be most grateful.
- Hopping on the mailing list & making sure those newsletters get past your filters is the best way to keep in the loop with my updates & invites and the latest on the walk.