The inspiration for the renovation of this park is the Wissahickon Valley, a picturesque wooded gorge extending seven miles along Wissahickon Creek in the northwestern section of Philadelphia.
In 2010, while preparing for the renovation of Sister Cities Park, archaeologists uncovered approximately 60 remnants of graves, thought to be from the early 19th century when the area was known as Northwest Square and served as a potter's field and graveyard.
For three weeks in the summer of 1864, Logan Square served as the grounds for the United States Sanitary Commission's Great Central Fair. All sales and proceeds from the Fair were used to provide care and supplies to Union soldiers during the Civil War. The Sanitary Commission was the precursor to the American Red Cross.
Sister Cities Park was first dedicated in 1976 in recognition of Philadelphia's commitment to the international Sister Cities program. It was redesigned and rededicated in 2012. Like the international flags that are on display along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, this park celebrates Philadelphia's commitment to strengthening global economic ties and cultural understanding. The Sister Cities program links Philadelphia to the world by creating special relationships with the 8 Sister Cities, 3 Partnership Cities in 10 countries and one "Partners for Peace" city with the Iraqi city, Mosul. Philadelphia's first two sister cities were Florence, Italy, and Tel Aviv, Israel. They now include: Torun, Poland; Tianjin, China; Incheon, Korea; Douala, Cameroon; Nizhny Novgorod, Russia; Kobe, Japan; Aix-en-Provence, France and Abruzzo, Italy. In July 2015, the German city of Frankfurt am Main was added to the list. For more information on the program visit: cdiphila.org.
Sustainable design is incorporated throughout the park. The café’s green roof, coupled with geothermal technologies, help moderate temperature extremes in the building as well as reduce storm water runoff. The roof, along with the native vegetation in the park helps reduce air temperature, smog and dust.
Funding for the renovation of Sister Cities Park was made possible by support from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the William Penn Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the State Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Sister Cities Park is leased from the Department of Parks and Recreation and managed and maintained by the Center City District.
To mark the historic visit to by Pope Francis to Philadelphia in September 2015, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Association for Public Art teamed up to install Robert Indiana’s AMOR sculpture atop the museum’s steps overlooking the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
In December 2016, the six-foot-tall bilingual sculpture — AMOR, which means “love” in both Spanish and Latin — was moved and permanently installed at Sister Cities Park (18th Street & the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.) For more information about the AMOR sculpture, visit the Association for Public Art's website.