As we get closer to the construction of the Bridesburg Riverfront Park, our excitement and imagination is in overdrive. While the pandemic and quarantine have stymied some of our creative plans, we realized that one thing has remained constant and relatively undisturbed these past 7 months – ordering pizza in Bridesburg.
Community artists Aislinn Pentecost-Farren and Mary Welcome will be launching “This Pizza is a Park” in late November where we’ll be working with Old English Pizza on Richmond Street at Orthodox St. for a Riverfront North pizza box takeover to energize the community about the upcoming riverfront park in Bridesburg. Go behind the scenes with us as we follow our design partners, artists on the process to imagine a park in a box!
How we made the pizza (box)…
Meet the Artists
Find out more about Aislinn here.
Find out more about Mary here.
What are some of the coolest projects you have worked on?
Aislinn: Probably the time I worked with Mary and our collective Camp Little Hope to build models of futuristic boats in an abandoned indoor swimming pool to get people thinking about the future of Philadelphia’s water supply. Or maybe when I used a weather balloon to make an aerial photo series with a bunch of middle school kids in Tacony. I really like to work with other people in my art so this pandemic makes things hard.
Mary: I agree with Aislinn! When we were living and working in a thrift store museum, we landed our first collective (Camp Little Hope) project in Philadelphia. We built an educational saloon and futuristic boatyard in an abandoned swimming pool, went all over town in matching jumpsuits, and spent the summer hanging out with folks on the Schuylkill.
How did you come up with the idea of using a pizza box as the ‘canvas’?
Aislinn: We were trying to figure out how to do community art when the future of the pandemic is hard to predict, and we might not be able to bring people together. We needed something that would connect people around the idea of this future park, but without needing those people to connect in person in case that wasn’t possible. We asked ourselves, what is still operating and reaching people even during a pandemic? Then we realized, PIZZA! Schools, newspapers, offices might be shut down, but PIZZA triumphs! Thanks to the essential workers at the pizza restaurants in Bridesburg, the pizza will go on no matter what!
What inspired the design for the box?
Aislinn: We did a ton of research about the history of the pizza box (it’s a perfect design!) and the classic looks of pizza boxes over the decades. We knew we wanted to make something new and surprising, so there’d be a fun unexpected moment when the pizza arrives to someone’s home, looking totally different. We were inspired by the visual environment of the Bridesburg neighborhood: the collages at the Rec Center, the family pictures taped up in local businesses, flyers on telephone poles, the personal stories in the Bridesburg Bulletin, and the clean and classic fonts of different industries that make up the history of the community. We included stories I learned from talking to people who grew up here and imagery from the Bridesburg Historical Society and Temple’s archives about Bridesburg. But we didn’t want it to just be informational, we wanted the box to include games and activities that people can do in their house while they’re eating pizza. So we used every possible surface of the box for drawing, quizzo, and secret stories.
Meet the Riverfront North Team
Why is it important to do this pizza box project?
Stephanie: Everyone I know eats pizza, but not everyone I meet knows about the upcoming Bridesburg Riverfront Park. Both parks and pizza have a way of bringing people together, feeding bellies and souls. We hope this project sparks conversation around the dinner table
Why is having a riverfront park in Bridesburg important?
Stephanie: This park was promised and planned for Bridesburg years ago, if not decades. We learned this year, through Aislinn’s research and creation of the “Bridesburg Riverways” video stories, that people in this neighborhood have deep memories of fishing, swimming, and being together on its riverfront. Just as importantly, Bridesburg Riverfront Park, is the last of eight planned parks on the 11-mile greenway that we help manage. The network of parks and trails is eventually going to connect more to other trails, both within the City and to the East Coast Greenway, a 3,000 mile trail that runs from Maine to Florida. This park is important for our region.
Gina: This 10-acre park also will give the opportunity to escape in nature in this densely residential riverward. The elevated meadow has already attracted wildlife and when you are there and close your eyes, it’s so peaceful and restorative. Nature has been proven to be a healer where spending some time outdoors can improve mood and self-esteem, decrease stress levels, and increase vitality.
What does Riverfront North Partnership do?
Stephanie: Riverfront North supports the City of Philadelphia in creating and activating a network of parks and trails that go from Allegheny Avenue in Port Richmond to Grant Avenue in Torresdale. We also host a variety of experiences in our parks, including volunteer cleanups and tree plantings. Every year, we plant hundreds of native trees as we work to increase biodiversity on the Delaware River Watershed. In the coming year we will stabilize the Pennypack Creek as it meets the Delaware River, which will improve the nature walk that people enjoy there.
Gina: Riverfront North also works with partners for family fishing and yoga on the pier. We are a proud partner of the Fairmount Park Conservancy’s WeWalkPHL and its neighbor-led walks every week. Our own nature walks that identify plants, birds – and even bats – are popular and well loved by the community.
What is the status of the Riverfront Park in Bridesburg?
Stephanie: Fundraising for Phase 1 Construction is complete. Riverfront North and the City of Philadelphia are doing the behind-the-scenes tasks of getting permits and developing construction bid packages. We look to put the project to bid by the summer of 2021. Find out more info on our FAQ page.
Most importantly, what’s your favorite kind of pizza?
Aislinn – This is weird, but I love leftover pizza. The reheated flavor is so comforting and reminds me of making myself leftovers for lunch when I was a kid. At Old English and Renzi’s I like to order a slice with spinach, ricotta, and onions.
Mary – I am a sucker for those Totino’s Party Pizzas that you can get for $1.98 and stash away in your freezer until you need a midnight snack. I like to dress it up with fancy cheese and fresh tomatoes. And then eat the whole thing myself, an entire party.
Gina -For me, it’s gotta be a thin crust slice with onion and Italian sausage, and some red pepper flakes on top. A close second is the homemade pizza my husband makes almost every Friday night.
Stephanie – Nothing beats a slice of plain pizza with a New York-style crust that’s crispy enough so it doesn’t flop, but also is a bit chewy. Sprinkle it with a little salt and oregano, and I’m the happiest person alive.
HUNGRY YET? Order your pizza now from Old English Pizza and Steaks: 215-288-9900