PHL Partners with FDR Park to Create Wetlands

Philadelphia International Airport is proud to participate in the FDR Park Plan, a public space transformation program located 3.5 miles west of PHL. The airport will support the creation of a 30-35-acre complex of tidal wetlands at FDR Park, increasing climate resilience for the park, the airport and the region at large. The program will compensate for wetland impacts associated with planned development at PHL, including an expansion of cargo facilities and related infrastructure on the west side of the airport.

History 

In 1904, the City of Philadelphia commissioned the construction of a park built on reclaimed marshland along the Delaware River.  Designed by the Olmsted Brothers, the 348-acre park opened as League Island Park in 1914. The new park was built using earth excavated from the construction of the Broad Street Subway, and featured a network of open spaces, water features like lakes and lagoons, and recreational areas for exercise and sports. 

In 1926, the park hosted the national Sesquicentennial Exhibition and several grand civic buildings, including the iconic Boathouse, opened for the first time. FDR Park has transitioned through a number of uses during the past 100 years, with the most recent version including a playground, four baseball diamonds, a renowned skate park, a network of lakes, the Swedish American Museum, and over 100 acres of woodland.

Airport Involvement 

In 2016 PHL began preliminary analysis on the feasibility of creating wetlands at FDR. In 2019, PHL announced that it would be part of the FDR Park Plan. The $250 million plan represents a vision for FDR Park that balances nature, water, and recreation by creating a more efficient habitat for native species and a pleasant experience for park goers.

Wetlands: The new “tidal wetland mosaic” will enhance riverbank areas adjacent to Shedbrook Creek. The wetland will expand habitat for native flora and fauna. 

Tide Gates: Two new tide gates will be installed at the park to prevent tidal flow to the park’s creeks and lagoons. The new gates will replace an aging, malfunctioning tidal gate and improve access for maintenance. 

A Soil Hill: The new wetlands require significant excavation to remove decades of accumulated soil. Suitable excavated materials will be preserved on a strategically placed “soil hill” for future use in delivering the plan. The hill will be planted with natural grasses, and existing trails will be routed to the north of the Hill. 

Construction is scheduled to last from early 2022 through the end of 2023. The park planning team is sharing updates at bit.ly/fdrparkplan.

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Heather Redfern
Public Affairs Manager
215-600-6105
[email protected]
Shawn Hawes
Public Information Officer
215-490-6465
[email protected]

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