By Dan Majka
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Renovated in 2006, Franklin Square is filled with a variety of activities, including Center City’s only 18-hole miniature golf course, designed after many favorite Philly spots.
“You really can putt through many of the different icons in the city. You putt through records and hear the sound of Philadelphia. You go through Elfreth’s Alley, you putt over the Ben Franklin Bridge from New Jersey into Philadelphia. You can putt through the Love sculpture, through the Chinatown Friendship Gate, up the Art Museum steps and into the hole.”
Amy Needle, president and CEO of Historic Philadelphia, says if golf is not your game, or even it is, you can take a ride on the Parx Liberty Carousel, which celebrates horse racing in the city.
“Off course, Race Street was once called Sassafras Street, but they changed it to Race Street because they used to have horse races down that street. So, of course, Franklin Square being on Race Street, we thought ‘how perfect.’ So, one of things that we did on the carousel was honor some of Philadelphia’s and Pennsylvania’s favorite horses. There is a Smarty Jones horse that is 100% identical in painting to Smarty. And we have an Afleet Alex horse. If you look at pictures of Afleet Alex and you see the stripes on his blanket or on his hooves, they’re exactly the way the carousel is.”
But Needle says the most popular activity at the square is probably the playground.
“When we renovated the square, we thought it was important to have two playgrounds, one for the little guys and one for the bigger people who can run and climb and not have to worry about bumping into a one or two-year-old. We have a great safety surface. Everything in the square is ADA accessible.”
For those just looking to take it easy, you can sit, relax and look at the Franklin Square Fountain, which has served as the centerpiece of the square into the 19th century.
“It actually was first commissioned by the city to have a fountain in the 1700’s as part of what was then Franklin Square. So when we did the renovation, that was obviously one of the first things that we wanted to do was to renovate that fountain. It’s a joy to be there and see people sitting, relaxing by it. It’s very peaceful, when the trees are in bloom you don’t really hear the sounds of the city all around you.”
If you’re hungry, you can enjoy a great meal at Square Burger, run and operated by Stephen Starr restaurants.
“Square Burger offers great burgers and fries and hot dogs and terrific milkshakes. If you haven’t had a Cake Shake, it is a Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpet in a vanilla milkshake. It is quite heavenly.”
And, if you’re looking for a cool place to host you child’s next birthday party, Needle says the Franklin Square Pavilion has become a very popular spot to do just that.
“Thanks to a grant from the William Penn Foundation, not only have we been able to have birthday parties in the square, but really any kind of event. We have had weddings and bar mitzvahs and bridal showers and baby showers, you name it.”
For more information about any of these of activities and more at Franklin Square, visit historicphiladelphia.org.
Listen to or download the full podcast (runs 3:37)…