Discovering and Learning

Here at Riverfront North Partnership, we are constantly learning; not only from our own experiences along the parks and trails, but also from similar organizations and initiatives across Philadelphia and the nation. This year, thanks to generous funding from the William Penn Foundation, Riverfront North Partnership staff and a selected panel of Bridesburg residents are embarking on a number of trips with this mission of information gathering to guide the future of the Riverfront Park in Bridesburg. Below you will find a chronicling of those experiences and lessons learned.


Click on a picture for in-depth interview with our local Bridesburg committee members!

Yvonne Stephens

Cathie Polakowski

Rosemarie Conry

Adam Visconto

Fred Becker

The Bridesburg Committee on site at the future riverfront park.



RNP staff explored the grounds of the Lazaretto in Tinicum Township, PA via an interactive theater experience called “Quarantine Play” that delved into the history of the site, it’s relationship to the Delaware River and the relationship the community has with the space today. The program’s creator, Aislinn Pentecost-Farren, is in the process of developing a new historical experience for the Bridesburg community ahead of the groundbreaking of the Bridesburg Riverfront Park.

Read our blog about this trip.


Our executive director, Stephanie Phillips traveled to the Pacific Northwest to meet with groups from across the nation for the Reimagining the Civic Commons conference. RNP is exploring the Civic Common’s four goals of civic engagement, socioeconomic mixing, environmental sustainability and value creation and how they might play into the landscape of the future riverfront park in Bridesburg.

The Philadelphia team in Seattle

Read our blog about this trip.


The Riverfront North Partnership team ventured across the Delaware River to explore how the other half lives over in New Jersey. Our partners, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership were kind enough to lead us on a multi-park tour of the Camden riverfront and gave us behind-the-scenes insight into ongoing projects and the successes and struggles they’ve had with each. We had the opportunity to explore: RCA Pier, Cooper’s Point, Pyne Point, Cramer Hill and Petty’s Island parks.

Overall, our trip across the river was eye-opening and refreshing. Though we are two states, we are one river and it is great to see both sides working tirelessly to transform formerly industrial shorelines into riverfront recreational spaces that benefit not only the environment, but the surrounding communities of our two great states.

Read our blog about this trip.


Together with Bridesburg’s Community Advisory Committee, RNP staff and two Board members, as well as representatives from our key partnerships (14 of us in all!), embarked upon Akron, OH to soak up what’s been accomplished in the Rubber Capital of the World and learn how to create public spaces with community engagement first and foremost in mind.

This trip taught us a lot of things including:

  • Communication is and building trust is key and takes time.
  • Low cost interventions have huge impact
  • Great parks are beautiful but it how you use them that makes them great.

Read our blog about this trip.


In October, Riverfront North Partnership staff along with members of the Bridesburg Riverfront Park Committee and State Representative Joe Hohenstein, visited two sites in Philadelphia renowned for design and beloved by the community, as part of a learning journey in preparation for the upcoming opening of the Bridesburg Riverfront Park. Both Bartram’s Garden in southwest Philadelphia and the new Discovery Center, in Strawberry Mansion, have evolved over the years. Though unique in their functions and approaches, both sites provided shared common takeaways on how to succeed as a useful civic space and how best to serve neighboring communities.

In both locations we left understanding that the first shovel of construction is just the beginning of the community relationship. That going beyond the borders of the space is the most important and necessary step to building strong and successful partnerships.

Read our blog about this trip.


This November, Riverfront North Partnership staff was taken on a socially distanced tour of FDR park in South Philadelphia, hosted by Park Director Justin DiBerardinis. With a new masterplan and funding underway, this Olmsted designed park will be transformed in the coming decade as a destination civic common space. For more information on what is in the master plan, visit this Fairmount Park Conservancy site.

Read our blog about this trip.