Grand opening celebration for Race St. Pier

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It was a very big night along the Philadelphia waterfront. They held the grand opening of the Race Street pier, and by all accounts, both the grand opening and the pier itself were really impressive.

City leaders say the goal is to get people to cross over I-95 and come to the Delaware River Waterfront which is why the new Race Street Pier is so important.

The fireworks were spectacular, and people are describing the new Race Street Pier just under the Ben Franklin Bridge.

There are trees, green space, seating terraces and WiFi, but a couple of years ago, the pier was a dilapidated eyesore.

The $6 million renovation is the latest step in many to redevelop the Delaware Riverfront.

Wednesday night's celebration was a sneak peak for sponsors, donors and community leaders, but on Thursday, Mayor Michael Nutter he will cut the ribbon opening the park for everyone.

"You're also going to see in the next couple of months, something called the Race Street Connector project, which is going to make it a lot easier to get across Delaware Avenue from Old City from Second Street, from other areas so we're going to make it very, very convenient," said Mayor Michael Nutter.

The public park will be one of several around a 6 mile stretch of the river.

"This is a good project to look at because this is what we envision for the entire waterfront, every park will be unique, but it will have the same high level of design," said Tom Corcoran of the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation.

Amedeo Petrongolo, the father of the New Park's builder got a little choked up seeing the pier.

He worked around it for decades and in memory of his wife who died two years ago, his family had her name engraved on the edge of a park bench. He says his wife would have loved what the city is trying to do.

"Unbelievable," said Amedeo Petrongolo. "It's gorgeous; it's something that you can't even explain."

The city put in almost $2 million for the project. A 30 year master plan for the stretch of the waterfront will be unveiled in the summer.

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