The Philadelphia region is famous for more than 30 public gardens, arboreta and historical landscapes, earning it the moniker America’s Garden Capital. But cold winters can make it challenging to attract people to these outdoor spaces.

Yet many cold-winter cities have created successful, outdoor celebrations: St. Paul has a Winter Carnival and Montreal, a Fete des Neiges. In Philadelphia, and ice skating at Dilworth Park attracted 50,000 skaters in 2014, its inaugural year. In 2015, we added a holiday market.

To build on the success at Dilworth Park, the CCD and Greater Philadelphia Gardens (GPG), with support from the William Penn Foundation, came together to launch a Wintergarden in the 2016-2017 winter season in the heart of the city. Longwood Gardens, Morris Arboretum, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and others created a beautiful, interactive Wintergarden with day and evening programming. Colorful lights accented trees on the park’s perimeter and America’s Garden Capital Maze activated the southern lawn. Nearby was the skating rink and café, where fire pits beckoned adults and children to warm up with a cup of hot cocoa, cider or a glass of mulled wine. The CCD and GPG hosted regular programs on Saturday mornings and Tuesdays at noon through February 25, 2017, including craft demonstrations, winter plant workshops, special happy hours and other activities.  Over 223,000 visited the Maze in 2016, which will return this coming winter season.

For a special feature on the America's Garden Capital Maze, visit

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To learn more about how you can support these CCDF projects, please contact:
Nancy Goldenberg
Executive Director, Center City District Foundation

Other Initiatives


The Center City District’s ‘Adopt-a-Bench’ program provides the unique opportunity for recognition in one of two signature parks – John F. Collins Park, and the Rail Park. Donors are acknowledged by a bronze plaque on the selected bench, engraved with a personalized inscription. Funds from donations help endow the maintenance of these parks.

John F. Collins Park is a small quiet oasis in the heart of Center City’s business and retail district. It was designed by the late John F. Collins and renovated by the Center City District in 2011. The park’s gentle fountain, wood benches, native landscaping and lighting create a retreat-like atmosphere for workers, residents, and visitors seeking a peaceful setting amid a bustling downtown. Six benches are still available for adoption.

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viaduct swings

Benches are also now available for adoption at the Viaduct Rail Park, our city’s newest elevated public park, now under construction between Broad Street and Callowhill. Donors receive a plaque on the selected bench, engraved with a personalized inscription. Ten unique benches, some solid timber and some handsomely fabricated of wood and metal will add to the park’s rusticity while bringing comfort to those who pause to admire their historic surroundings. An additional five benches are situated at the southern end of the park, where those who rest can take in the stunning views of Philadelphia’s Center City skyline.

Interested in adopting a bench? Bench availability is limited, so don’t miss out on this unique opportunity. Download the Adopt-A-Bench Form today!

Plant! Philadelphia  

With your support, the CCD can sustain William Penn’s vision of a “greene countrie towne.” Today, street trees not only are challenged by summer droughts, winter snow, pests and diseases, but also by 21st century challenges: pollution, construction trucks, stapled posters and bicycle locks. There are more than 2,600 street trees within the boundaries of the Center City District and for two decades, we have maintained over 780 of them from Vine Street to South Street, river to river. Approximately 60 are in need of replacement each year. You can help replace damaged trees, sustain routine pruning, watering, fertilization and pest management on healthy trees and plant new ones to expand Center City’s canopy of thriving trees.  

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