Press release

Work To Resume on Discovery Garden Enhancements At Sister Cities Park

JoAnn Loviglio
T 215.440.5546


Interactive Additions For Children Include Climbing Net, Water Features & More

PHILADELPHIA (May 11, 2020) – This week, Center City District (CCD) is resuming work on enhancements to Sister Cities Park to expand the park’s opportunities for play with new components that engage children from a broader range of ages. The construction project, which began in late January, was halted in March in compliance with city and state guidelines.

“It will take us until July to complete this work,” said CCD President and CEO Paul R. Levy. “By starting now, we can be ready for a reopening of public spaces, hopefully by the summer.”

The additions include a climbing net and platform, a “hiding” nest, a stream dam, and push-button operated water jets, in addition to an extended area for plantings and additional stone benches. Many of these new elements will be accessible year-round, keeping the park active in the colder months. The Sister Cities Café, which was renovated last year and updated with a more child-friendly menu, hopefully will also be able to open by the summer.

Located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Logan Square at 18th Street, Sister Cities Park was first dedicated in 1976 in recognition of Philadelphia’s commitment to the international Sister Cities program. Transformed by CCD in 2012 from a forgotten space into one of the nation’s leading multigenerational parks, Sister Cities Park is a favorite destination for families with children, school and day care groups, local workers, seniors and visitors to nearby cultural institutions.

The Discovery Garden quickly became a favorite experience for children, modeled after the winding paths, mountains and streams of Philadelphia’s Wissahickon Valley. The park’s shallow wading pond, a popular spot for families in the warm weather months, was designed to be converted into an Imagination Playground in the winter.

For the project currently underway, CCD engaged the expertise of Studio Ludo, specializing in building better play through research and design, and Studio Bryan Hanes, an urban design and landscape architecture firm that created the new 2012 design for Sister Cities Park.

After surveying dozens of parents and caretakers, and observing how children use Sister Cities Park, CCD developed plans to enhance the Discovery Garden with more ways for children to play while maintaining the intimate and natural feel of the park.

Plans for the project were approved by the Philadelphia Art Commission, as well as the Department of Parks and Recreation, from whom CCD leases the site. Bittenbender Construction, a woman-owned enterprise, was competitively selected as the project contractor.

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These improvements are supported by generous contributions from Brandywine Realty Trust, The McLean Contributionship, The Thomas and Tracey Gravina Foundation, Exeter Property Group, Pearl Properties, Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, Forst Foundation, Burpee Foundation, PHLCVB and many other generous individuals and families.


Center City District, a private-sector organization dedicated to making Center City Philadelphia clean, safe and attractive, is committed to maintaining Center City’s competitive edge as a regional employment center, a quality place to live, and a premier regional destination for dining, shopping and cultural attractions. Find us at and on Facebook and Twitter.