Press release

Center City District Foundation awarded grant from William Penn Foundation to bring Pulse at Dilworth Park to life

JoAnn Loviglio
T 215.440.5546


First phase of interactive public artwork by Janet Echelman will be activated in July

PHILADELPHIA (May 14, 2018) — The Center City District Foundation is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a $325,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation to enable this summer the first phase of activation for Pulse, a playful and engaging work of site-specific public art created for Dilworth Park by internationally recognized sculptor Janet Echelman.

Inspired by Center Square’s historic associations with water and transportation, Pulse traces the movement of the subway lines below in real-time. As SEPTA trains pass under Dilworth Park, four-foot-tall curtains of atomized dry mist will travel across the park fountain’s surface in the color associated with each line of transit — green for the Subway-Surface Trolley Lines, blue for the Market-Frankford Line and orange for the Broad Street Line.  This summer, due to the generous grant from the William Penn Foundation, the green line will be activated in the park.

“Dilworth Park is a public space that serves people from all neighborhoods, and Pulse will offer Dilworth Park’s diverse group of users and audiences an opportunity to engage with art that is innovative and interactive. Additionally, its artistic interpretation of the transportation hub below ground will celebrate one of the elements that makes this site a connection point to the city,” said Judilee Reed, Program Director for Creative Communities at the William Penn Foundation.

Described by the artist as “a living X-ray of the city’s circulatory system,” the orange, blue and green mists will zoom across the fountain in tandem with the trains below, evoking the steam emanating from the city’s first water pumping station that was located on the site, as well as the steam from the trains at the Pennsylvania Railroad Station that once stood across the street. While celebrating the site’s rich history, Pulse also embraces the future with cutting-edge technology that provides real-time transit information.

“During the construction of Dilworth Park in 2014, significant infrastructure was embedded in the park’s 11,160-square-foot fountain in anticipation of the day when Pulse would become a reality,” said Center City District President and CEO Paul R. Levy. “Thanks to this generous grant, Pulse is on track to come to life this July, presenting park visitors with the first phase of what will be a signature work of public art for Dilworth Park and Center City.”

The Center City District’s $55 million renovation of Dilworth Park, and its ongoing maintenance, management and programming at the park, has created a welcoming civic space with year-round activities and events for the more than 10 million people who visited the park in 2017. In designing Dilworth Park, the CCD commissioned Echelman, who reshapes urban space with monumental experiential sculptures that respond to environmental forces, to create an innovative work of public art for was then an unused and barren space.

Pulse will create an experience that is captivating and lively. Mist, ephemeral by nature, will trace the quickly moving trains with colors visible by day, glowing at night, to become a defining part of the Dilworth Park experience.

CCD is also grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts and other donors whose contributions are bringing Pulse to life.

For more information and a video animation of the work, visit To learn more about CCDF, visit


About the Center City District Foundation
The Center City District Foundation (CCDF) is a 501(c)3 organization and is the charity of choice for engaged citizens who care deeply about the vitality and competitiveness of Center City. Working together with the Center City District and the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation, CCDF supports initiatives that improve the quality of life and make downtown Philadelphia unique and engaging.

About the William Penn Foundation
The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, foster creativity that enhances civic life, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. In partnership with others, the Foundation works to advance opportunity, ensure sustainability, and enable effective solutions. The Foundation’s assets exceed $2.6 billion as of December 31, 2017.

About Janet Echelman
Janet Echelman combines ancient craft with cutting-edge technology to create artworks that have become focal points in cities on four continents. Her TED talk, “Taking Imagination Seriously,” has been translated into 35 languages with nearly 2 million views. She is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Harvard University Loeb Fellowship, a Fulbright Lectureship and the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award in Visual Arts honoring “the greatest innovators in America today.”