Fairmount Park , located on the banks of the Schuylkill River, Philadelphia , is one of the world’s largest municipal parks consisting of 63 parks, with 9,200 acres (3,700 ha) and containing several million trees and America’s oldest zoo.
The largest of these 63 Fairmount parks are : East and West Parks, Franklin D. Roosevelt Park, Pennypack Park, Poquessing Park, Tacony Creek Park and Wissahickon Valley Park. The park system is named after its first park, Fairmount Park, which occupies nearly half the area of the whole system, at over 4,180 acres (17 km²) making it the largest landscaped park in the US.
The original domain of Fairmount Park consisted of three areas: South Park , East or Old Park,and West Park. The South Garden predated the establishment of the Park Commission in 1867 and Lemon Hill and Sedgley were added in 1855-56.
The park was dedicated to the public on September 15, 1855. A series of state and local legislative acts increased the holdings of the city, incorporating mansions, waterworks, gardens, and even the land set aside for the Zoological Society of Philadelphia. Fairmount Park was the site of the Centennial Exposition of 1876, and several buildings from that earlier fair still stand, notably Memorial Hall. Fairmount Park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 7, 1972.
Today, Fairmount Park includes the Centennial Arboretum, Philadelphia’s Horticulture Center, Fairmount Water Works, Memorial Hall, home to the Please Touch Museum, the Belmont Plateau, Japanese house, Bartram’s Garden (America’s oldest living botanical garden), Philadelphia Museum of Art, Boathouse Row, Azalea Garden, recreation centers, reservoirs, and countless statues as determined by the park. Today , Fairmount Park is home to a large collection of public art, largely due to the efforts of the Fairmount Park Art Association, a non-profit organization founded in 1872
Mount Pleasant is now a gallery of the Philadelphia Museum of Art located in Fairmount Park.Other houses in the park include are William Peters’s Belmont Mansion (1745), Hatfield House, Randolph House, Joshua Fisher’s The Cliffs (1753), Historic Strawberry Mansion, The Monastery, and the Woodford mansion.
Things to do
One of the world’s largest municipal parks, Fairmount contains several million trees , the oldest zoo in the U.S., Boathouse Row , cherry blossoms to rival those along D.C.’s Potomac Basin, Robin Hood Dell, an outdoor venue for soul-filled summer singers, the Mann Music Center, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s summer amphitheater, picnic areas, tennis courts, miles of bicycle paths, bridle paths, an azalea garden, hundreds of statues and monuments, and two dozen or so 18th- and 19th-century buildings, which comprise an unusual historical patrimony.
There are over 215 miles of scenic, recreation trails in Fairmount Park. There’s a trail for everyone, from sidewalks, to off-road trails, to paths through the woods to walkways along a creek or river. Visitors can also walk, bicycle, rollerblade, or drive along Kelly and West River Drives or simply spend some quality time in nature along friends and family.