The answer could come with the construction of the Penn’s Landing cap, an 11-acre park and amphitheater that will connect Front Street in Old City with the Delaware waterfront.Unlike other parks around the city that could easily accommodate big concerts, only the cap promises to rival the Parkway with a television-ready backdrop: the Center City skyline.Nearly square in shape, it also promises far better viewing than the linear Parkway. We’ll just have to wait until 2023 for it to be completed.Maybe then we can get serious about finishing the Parkway as it was meant to be.The Parkway has also become the route of choice for races and parades.
The opening of the Barnes Foundation five years ago gave people another reason to visit the Parkway.
The anniversary events, which begin Friday and focus on high-toned cultural offerings, are a painful reminder that we still haven’t figured out what the Parkway should be. A gorgeous highway to sprint commuters in and out of Center City? Whichever you prefer, the Parkway fails at all of them.
Is it Philadelphia’s signature cultural destination? Because the grand diagonal has never lived up to its billing as a lively Champs-Élysées, it has defaulted into a prime-time stage set where tens of thousands of unpaid extras gather so cameras can film mega events like the NFL draft or the July 4 fireworks against the stunning backdrop of the Art Museum.
The city has finally begun to acknowledge that the festivities might be too much of a good thing and has embarked on a study to develop a management strategy.
The cultural institutions want to contain the number of weekend events because they depress attendance, undercutting one of the Parkway’s main reasons for being.