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A Tiny Urban Park Renamed To Honor A Prolific Philadelphia Landscape Architect

(Collins Park, in the 1700 block of Chestnut Street.  Credit: John Ostapkovich)

(Collins Park, in the 1700 block of Chestnut Street. Credit: John Ostapkovich)

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By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A tiny park in center city Philadelphia has been refurbished, and renamed for the guy who put his heart and soul into it.

John F. Collins designed the tiny sliver of a park that was built in the middle of the 1700 block of Chestnut Street in the 1970s.

He didn’t live to see Chestnut Park renamed in his honor, but his son John says the park had been his dad’s ongoing concern for much of his later life.

“He couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to give up the better part of their Saturday to help in the park,” son John recalls.  “His wife, siblings, children, nephews, employees, colleagues, friends, students, graduates of his Holmesburg nursery training program, and a Korean War veteran — Calvin, who was homeless at the time — all joined him in taking care of this place.”

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collins john vintage dl A Tiny Urban Park Renamed To Honor A Prolific Philadelphia Landscape Architect

(A vintage photo of John F. Collins is now on display at the park that has been renamed in his honor.)

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The park cuts from Chestnut Street to Ranstead, where Liberty Place now looms.

Paul Levy, of the Center City District, says Collins’ work went citywide:

“John was the original designer of Three Bears Park (near 4th and Delancey), of the walkways in Society Hill, did the original plan for the Schuylkill River Park, and did a great deal of work in the redesign of Market Street East in the 1980s.”

Now, Collins’ accomplishments are preserved in plaques in the park that bears his name.

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