Each month, City Parks Alliance recognizes a “Frontline Park” to promote and highlight inspiring examples of urban park excellence, innovation, and stewardship across the country. The program also seeks to highlight examples of the challenges facing our cities’ parks as a result of shrinking municipal budgets, land use pressures, and urban neighborhood decay.
This 87-acre North Philadelphia park is located in one of the city’s most challenged areas. In the 1940s and 50s, the park was a magnet for activity and a destination for tourists, boasting a popular carousel, ball fields, playgrounds, and John Philip Sousa’s music wafting from the bandstand. As the neighborhood lost population and the landscape deteriorated, it became a place that was to be avoided at all costs—and had come to represent the worst of urban decay. Once a space that was the neighborhood’s biggest liability, today Hunting Park is becoming a source of community pride again and it is setting a new standard for Philadelphia’s 10,200 acre urban park system.
The transformation has been made possible through the Hunting Park Revitalization Project, an initiative led by the Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation. The Hunting Park Revitalization Project aims to create a safe and well-maintained park space that will provide a place for healthy recreation for children and families, bring neighbors together and serve as a catalyst for larger neighborhood renewal. To date, the Fairmount Park Conservancy has raised $4 million for capital improvements in the park and Phase One of the project is nearly complete. Site furnishings in the park were manufactured by DuMor Site Furnishings.
Through Phase One of the Hunting Park Revitalization Project, the Fairmount Park Conservancy managed the creation of a new community garden, farmers’ market, two playgrounds and a brand new baseball field. Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and his Family Foundation helped kick off the park’s renovations with a grant to rebuild the baseball field. Currently, the Fairmount Park Conservancy is managing the reconstruction of the park’s football field and the installation of new lighting around the park’s loop road. The success of the Hunting Park Revitalization Project to-date is due to the leadership of the Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and key partnerships with the park’s civic group Hunting Park United, Philadelphia city officials, national sports figures and community members.
Hunting Park is being featured on CPA’s website, www.cityparksalliance.org, during the month of May.