The Delaware River waterfront's newest public gathering space, Cherry Street Pier, is set to open its doors this Friday, Oct. 12. After being vacant for decades, the former 20th-century maritime warehouse will house an open-air park with riverside views, multiple food vendors, and a collaborative working area made up of 14 artist studios and offices built from repurposed shipping containers.
While construction is still underway, here's a first look at what you can look forward to upon visiting.
Take note, opening night will feature two free performances by Theatre Philadelphia and Orchestra 2001, and on Saturday, a two-week celebratory "Festival for the People" will kick off, bringing installations, events, videos, and more to the space through Oct. 28.
Adjacent to Race Street Pier and just steps away from Spruce Street Harbor Park and Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest/Winterfest, the revived, 55,000-square-foot maritime pier creates yet another waterfront attraction for visitors to explore.
Inside, Cherry Street Pier houses 14 artist studios, created out of shipping containers that were designed to let visitors peek inside and watch the artists live in action. At the time of the opening, 17 artists will occupy the workspaces, some of which will be shared among more than one individual. One studio will remain open for a future artist applicant and is initially being used as a display space for a group show where visitors can view current residents' work.
Four food vendors will occupy Cherry Street Pier. Throughout the week, visitors can look forward to creamy treats from Little Baby's Ice Cream and Indonesian fare from James Beard-nominated Hardena/Waroeng Surabaya. Birdie's Biscuits will offer sweet and savory biscuits on weekends, and one final food vendor is set to be announced this week.
Three of the food vendors will serve up eats from inside retrofitted trolley cars that once ran up and down Columbus Boulevard, right outside of Cherry Street Pier.
Until recently, Cherry Street Pier was known as Municipal Pier 9, a formerly vital part of Philadelphia's shipping and trade community, linking the Delaware River to the Pennsylvania, B&O, and Reading railroad yards. The pier served as a destination for ships to unload their cargo onto trains up until the industrial waterfront's decline in the mid-20th century. Scattered throughout the current space, an array of historical details remain, including the train stop, pictured here, a protection device used to bring trains to a stop in case of brake failures or other emergencies.
The garden area will be filled with benches and seating, serving as a gathering space designed to fuel discussion and collaboration. Here, visitors can also relax and admire the dramatic structure of the historic building.
Inside, two floors exist for visitors to wander through. At the center of the second floor, find a balcony that offers an excellent vantage point for viewing the expanse of the massive pier. A few tables will be set up in this area.
Stadium seating at the back of Cherry Street Pier overlooks the Delaware River waterfront, as well as an indoor area that will be used for various events, such as movie screenings.
The nearly 100-year-old pier brings prime views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. "Our goal was to maintain the industrial grittiness and weathered look of it while bringing it up to a level of care that allows for public access," says Lizzie Woods, vice president of planning and capital programs for the Delaware River Waterfront Corp., the developer behind Cherry Street Pier.
Growing in shipping containers, an array of native plants fill the outdoor garden area of Cherry Street Pier. Look for pink echinaceas, dogwood, Christmas fern, lilac trees, red maples, and a variety of other greenery.
While still under construction, Cherry Street Pier remains on track to open this Friday, Oct. 12. A free, two-week celebratory festival will follow called Festival for the People, kicking off Oct. 13. Festival for the People is set to bring a massive celebration of subcultural forms of art — ranging from comics to tattoos to internet culture — to the Delaware River waterfront. Three weekends of events will unfold, including an origami workshop, live tattooing sessions, and a two-day film festival featuring submissions by local teenagers.