PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Considered one of the city’s best outdoor art spaces, Pier 124, also known as Graffiti Pier, is being closed to the public due to an increase of crime.
Graffiti Pier, in Philadelphia’s Fishtown section of the city, has been referred to as one of the city’s hidden gems.
Over the past few years, thousands have come to the old loading dock that was once used for ships transporting coal.
“We just saw it on Google and thought, ‘Hey, why not come down here and shoot,'” said Iyanna Best.
Best and her friends from North Philadelphia decided to do an impromptu photo shoot on Sunday at the picturesque pier, after noticing its popularity online.
Graffiti Pier has its own Instagram page with hundreds of followers and thousands of tagged photos.
Those photos are of people who come from all over the city, country, and even the world to take a selfie at the pier.
However, like Best and her friends found out on Sunday, taking photos at the pier is not going to be an option anymore.
Police say that they are taking extra measures to ensure that trespassers can no longer seek out the mesmerizing location that draws curious-minded folks and art lovers due to its magnificent views of the Delaware waterfront.
These increased measures are as follows:
- Enforcing the trespassing ordinance on Conrail property (Graffiti Pier & surrounding area).
- Increased lighting.
- Increased surveillance cameras in the entire area.
- Increased police presence.
- Enforcement of “No Parking” – tow away zone. All vehicles parked along 2200-2400 Beech and 2700 Cumberland Street will be ticketed and towed.
Technically, the pier is on private property.
The decision to make sure the public doesn’t have access to it anymore comes after a recent rash of illegal activity near the pier, including an increase in car break-ins and theft.
“You get some knuckle heads that come down here and try to take advantage of the good, but just don’t give in for the bad, let’s keep it for the positive,” said Ed Zampitella.
Zampitella and his friends with the organization “The Last Stop” hope that the property owner, Conrail, and the city reconsider this decision.
“It’s a giant art piece, people should be allowed to enjoy that,” said Victor Merlo of Fishtown. “Taking that away from the community is devastating.”
“I’m hoping that enough people will pull together where we can talk to the people who own it, where we can do something to make it into a park where families can enjoy this area,” added Zampitella.
Conrail said it does want to work with the public and the city to make better use of the property. Conrail is not shutting down the option to open Graffiti Pier up to the public one day, but until it can figure out how to do that safely the pier will be heavily patrolled and trespassing violators will be prosecuted.