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LOVE Park, officially known as John F. Kennedy Plaza, is a public park located in Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The park is nicknamed LOVE Park for its reproduction of Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture which overlooks the plaza.
John F. Kennedy Plaza
2010 view of LOVE Park, with the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the distant background
|Area||0.5 acres (0.20 ha)|
|Created||1965; reconstructed in 2018|
|Operated by||Philadelphia Parks & Recreation|
Former Philadelphia city planner Edmund Bacon and architect Vincent G. Kling planned and designed the original LOVE Park. The park is across from the Philadelphia City Hall and serves as a visual terminus for the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
The park was built in 1965 and covered an underground parking garage. The main feature of the plaza became a centrally-located single spout fountain added in 1969. The city's visitor center (built in 1960, before LOVE Park) was closed for five years, but re-opened in 2006 as The Fairmount Park Welcome Center. The park was dedicated in 1967 as John F. Kennedy Plaza after President John F. Kennedy.
A "LOVE" sculpture, designed by Robert Indiana, was first placed in the plaza in 1976 as part of the United States Bicentennial celebration. The sculpture was removed in 1978 after the celebration ended. However, the chairman of Philadelphia Art Commission, Fitz Eugene Dixon Jr., was able to purchase the sculpture and to have it permanently placed it in the plaza during that year.
From 2016 to 2018, a major reconstruction project converted the largely hardscaped plaza into a predominantly green area that contains large and small lawns for casual uses, two gardens with native plantings, an open viewshed of City Hall and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, new seating and pathways, and public restrooms. A redesigned fountain features a monumental jet and a basket-weave of smaller jets with programmable up-lighting within a large oval paved open space.
Fairmount Park Welcome CenterEdit
Built at the base of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in 1961 by the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the building actually predated the surrounding Love Park by five years. Informally known as the "flying saucer", it was designed by architect Roy Larson of Harbeson, Hough, Livingston & Larson as a futuristic celebration of postwar Philadelphia optimism, attracting visitors to the heart of Penn Center, one of America’s most ambitious experiments in urban renewal. The building survives today as one of the best and most intact examples of flamboyant midcentury modern architecture in Center City Philadelphia and has been determined eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Presently, the building is being renovated to house a restaurant, with a targeted opening date in 2020.
The Christmas Village in PhiladelphiaEdit
The Christmas Village in Philadelphia is modeled after 16th-century German Christmas Markets, the most famous one being in Nuremberg. Running from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve, the village attracts nearly 500,000 visitors during its run and is one of the most popular holiday events in Philadelphia.
Skateboarding in Love ParkEdit
As skateboarding rose in popularity, Love Park became a popular place to skate in Philadelphia. The park's then-present curved stairs, granite surfaces, ledges, multiple levels, and drained fountain during fall and winter attracted many such skaters, as did the park's location in the center of Philadelphia and its views of City Hall and the city's skyline.
During the 1990s the city banned skateboarding in the park. In protest of the ban, Edmund Bacon rode a skateboard through Love Park in 2002 at the age of 92 while being held up by local skaters. Further, skaters often defied the ban until police ordered them to leave.
During the early 2000s, the park underwent a renovation that made the park less suitable for skateboarding. However, the renovation did not stop the illegal activity.
In 2016 Mayor Jim Kenney announced that the park would be renovated once again. Unlike the renovation that had taken place during the early 2000s, the planned renovation would substantially change the park by converting a so-called "granite Sahara" into a single-level mostly-green space. It was later revealed that the city had permitted the renovation to proceed to allow the ceiling of the parking garage below to be renovated and raised as requested by a party to whom the city had sold the garage.
The announcement of the new renovation drew protests from the skateboarding community. Several skater groups proposed alternate redesigns that would allow the park to remain accessible to both skaters and non-skaters. However, the city rejected these alternatives. DC Shoes, which sold skateboarding footwear, offered to write the city a $1 million check if city permitted the park to be left intact, but the city declined the offer. Shortly before the renovation began, Mayor Kenney removed the ban on skating for several days to provide skateboarders with a final opportunity to legally use the park for their activity.
- "Fairmount Park Welcome Center". Philadelphia: Independence Visitor Center Corporation. Archived from the original on October 27, 2018.
- (1) Zalot, Morgan (February 10, 2016). "Phila. breaks ground on $16.5M LOVE Park renovation". Philadelphia Business Journal. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
(2) Zalot, Morgan (February 10, 2016). "Philadelphia Breaks Ground on $16.5 Million LOVE Park Renovation". NBC10 Philadephia. Archived from the original on October 7, 2020. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
(3) Merriman, Anna (May 30, 2018). "After two years, LOVE Park reopens with new look". Curbed Philadelphia. Vox Media. Archived from the original on January 7, 2020. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
(4) Madej, Patricia (May 30, 2018). "LOVE Park reopens after renovations". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on January 7, 2020. Retrieved January 7, 2019.
(5) "The New LOVE Park". Philadelphia: Fairmount Park Conservancy. 2020. Archived from the original on January 7, 2020. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to LOVE Park.|
- "Free LOVE Park". ushistory.org. Philadelphia: Independence Hall Association. May 22, 2003. Archived from the original on February 16, 2012.
- 2004 video documentary about the rise and fall of skateboarding in LOVE Park
- Love Park videos and photos from SkateSpotter