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Park with boardwalk, 'oasis' aims to make a splash at Penn's Landing

Lounge in a hammock orchard. Sit beneath an umbrella on an anchored barge overlooking floating flower gardens and the river. Drink Philly beer, eat Philly or boardwalkesque food, play bocce ball.

That's some of what visitors to the new Spruce Street Harbor Park can partake in after the new summer waterfront space opens Friday at 11 a.m.

Built with a $310,000 ArtPlace America grant, Spruce Street Harbor has brought new things to some familiar Penn's Landing places: The areas around the Boat Basin and the Christopher Columbus monument, just south of the Hyatt and just north of the Moshulu.

This park is the summertime equivalent of Winterfest, the popular space the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation created around the Blue Cross River Rink. Winterfest will be back when the weather turns cold again, said DRWC Spokeswoman Emma Fried-Cassorla. And if the new space on Spruce Street proves popular, it'll become an annual summertime happening as well, she said.

The direct route to the park is to cross Columbus at Spruce and walk between the shipping containers that Monday were still being painted by local mural artists.

Inspired both by the rusty-colored container that was his canvas and the waterfront setting, Philadelphia mural artist Michael Konrad painted a pattern reflective of the scaffolding of a deteriorating shipping pier.

Behind hung the many colorful swings of the Hammock Orchard portion of the park, and some passers-by were already discovering them. Three hundred clear, tubular LED lights hung from the trees, icicle style. Programming can sync them and other park lights into a light show, Fried-Cassorla said.

Workers strung market lights from the top of the Columbus Monument, which will be surrounded by the same colorful tables, 250 chairs and umbrellas that already line three barges anchored in a U-shape around floating gardens and two more shipping containers repurposed as The Blue Anchor. The Blue Anchor will feature a casual menu reflective of Chef Jose Garces' vision, with a unique take on his Village Burger executed by Garces Event's Chef Adam Delosso. The bar will serve local beer and cocktails to complement the menu selections. Food can be taken to, say, a hammock. Beer must stay in The Oasis.

The three 80-foot by 30-foot barges that make up The Oasis were provided by Hays Tug and Launch. Hays named the barges TJ, Brody and Richard after the owner's grandchildren – hey, it could help with friend location on crowded nights: "Meet me at TJ."

Spruce Street Harbor Park will also feature a boardwalk (wheelchair accessible!), with more shipping containers turned into a snack concession and an arcade and the Mist Walk – a grouping of sculptural structures that will cool visitors off with a spray of water.

DRWC worked with Interface StudioDigsau, and Groundswell Design Group, to create the plan for the space, and is collaborating with David Fierabend of Groundswell Design Group to complete the project installation and with The Heads of State for brand design.

The park opens to the public at 11 a.m. Friday (there are some preview events before that), and will be open daily through Aug. 31 from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. The hours for Blue Anchor, named for one of Philadelphia's first pubs, have not been set yet.  is dedicated to covering design, planning and development issues in Philadelphia. The news website is a project of PennPraxis, the clinical arm of the School of Design of the University of Pennsylvania. It is funded by the Wyncote Foundation.