Love Park

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LOVE Park
John F. Kennedy Plaza
LOVE Park Philly.JPG
LOVE Park with the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the distant background
TypeUrban park
LocationPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
Coordinates39°57′15″N 75°09′57″W / 39.9542°N 75.1657°W / 39.9542; -75.1657Coordinates: 39°57′15″N 75°09′57″W / 39.9542°N 75.1657°W / 39.9542; -75.1657
Area0.5 acres (0.20 ha)
Created1965
Operated byPhiladelphia Parks & Recreation
StatusOpen

LOVE Park, officially known as John F. Kennedy Plaza, is a plaza located in Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The park is nicknamed LOVE Park for its reproduction of Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture which overlooks the plaza.

History[edit]

LOVE Park is the brainchild of former Philadelphia City Planner Edmund Bacon and architect Vincent G. Kling. The park is across from City Hall and was designed as a terminus for the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The park was built in 1965 and covers an underground parking garage. The main features of the plaza are curved granite steps and a single spout fountain added in 1969. What was once the city visitor center (built in 1960, before LOVE Park) was closed down for five years, but opened up in May 2006 as The Fairmount Park Welcome Center.[1] The park was dedicated in 1967 as John F. Kennedy Plaza after President John F. Kennedy.

The park is dedicated to the late United States president John F. Kennedy. A plaque at the park describes the dedication.

A "Love" sculpture, designed by Robert Indiana, was first placed in the plaza in 1976 as part of the United States' Bicentennial celebration. It was removed in 1978, but the sculpture was missed, and the chairman of Philadelphia Art Commission, Fitz Eugene Dixon Jr., bought the sculpture and permanently placed it in the plaza, in 1978.

Fairmount Park Welcome Center[edit]

Built at the base of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in 1961 by the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the building actually predated the surrounding Love Park by five years. Informally known as the "flying saucer", it was designed by architect Roy Larson of Harbeson, Hough, Livingston & Larson as a futuristic celebration of postwar Philadelphia optimism, attracting visitors to the heart of Penn Center, one of America’s most ambitious experiments in urban renewal. The building survives today as one of the best and most intact examples of flamboyant midcentury modern architecture in Center City Philadelphia and has been determined eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Presently, the building is being renovated to house a restaurant, with a targeted opening date in 2020.

The Christmas Village in Philadelphia[edit]

The Christmas Village in Philadelphia is modeled after 16th-century German Christmas Markets, the most famous one being in Nuremberg. Running from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve, the village attracts nearly 500,000 visitors during its run and is one of the most popular holiday events in Philadelphia.

Rise and Fall of Skateboarding at Love Park[edit]

The Rise of Love Park[edit]

As skateboarding rose in popularity, Love Park became a popular skate park in Philadelphia. It's curved stairs, granite surfaces, ideal ledges, multiple levels, and drained fountain during fall and winter made it an ideal spot of street skaters. It's placement in the epicenter of Philadelphia with views of City Hall and the skyline made it a scenic place to skate compared to other skate-parks located away from city life. Skaters enjoyed skating in area where non-skaters also congregated to spectate as well and enhance to feeling of Philadelphia culture and community at the park. The park eventually gained worldwide attention and became viewed as skateboarding Mecca drawing in skaters worldwide to visit. In the 1990s the City of Philadelphia banned skateboarding in Love Park but the skaters still came to the park to skate until being chased of by law enforcement. In the early 2000s, the park underwent renovations that made the park slightly less ideal for skateboarding but ultimately did not destroy its legendary status. In protest of the skateboarding ban, mastermind behind the creation of Love Park, Edmund Bacon, at the age of 92 rode a skateboard through Love Park in 2002 while being held up by local skaters.

The Death of Love Park[edit]

In 2016 Mayor Jim Kenney announced that the park would renovated once again. Unlike the renovations that took place during the early 2000s these renovations would drastically change the face of the park turning the "granite sahara" into a single-level mostly-green space. The announcement drew huge protest from the skateboarding community. Several skater groups proposed alternate redesigns that allowed the park to remain accessible to both skaters and non-skaters but these were rejected. Shoe company, DC Shoes, even offered to write the city a $1,000,000 check if they left the park intact but the offer was declined. Jim Kenney decided to lift the ban on skateboarding in Love Park for the 5 remaining days before it was renovated to give skaters around the world a chance to say goodbye. Since 2016, the renovations have been completed the and skateboarding scene of Love Park has completely died. It has since been uncovered the motivation behind the renovations was to allow the ceiling of the parking garage below to be renovated and raised as requested by the buyer who the City of Philadelphia sold the garage to.

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