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Philly Urban Living

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By Timothy M. Garrity | Broker in Philadelphia, PA

Manayunk's canal/towpath is looking for an upgrade

Cool shot of the Manayunk Canal | Manayunk, Philadelphia

The goal, to make the entire canal/towpath area more recreation, entertainment, and retail-friendly.

Don't get me wrong, the Manayunk towpath recently underwent an upgrade at it's western end (past the Green Lane Bridge). Murals have been painted, plantings have been tended to, cleanings are consistently scheduled, and the path itself was re-paved/re-graveled. It was a nice upgrade for all who use it.

I went for a few runs down there this past summer, and it was pretty awesome; especially when you're close to the Flat Rock Dam.

Flat Rock Dam

If you've never walked/ran/biked down this way, I highly recommend checking it out. Parking is easy on Nixon St (where Shawmont Ave dead ends), and you can also catch the Schuylkill River Trail from this spot. Connecting the towpath and the SRT was also part of that project.

So, back to the canal/towpath plans.

The next area of focus is the canal "boardwalk," which basically runs from Green Ln to Lock St (by the Manayunk Brewery, aka The Brew Pub). This section of the canal was overhauled close to 40 years ago, and it's still in constant use today; but it could use a sprucing-up. The planning that's going on now is for improvement along this corridor.

Kay Sykora, Director of the Schuylkill Project, has stated, "We feel that there is an opportunity for the canal boardwalk area to be a great public space. It will move the boardwalk into a more central position and present an opportunity for it to be a connector both up to the commercial district and up into the neighborhood."

Right on, Kay!

Manayunk is a busy commercial strip, it has charm that most other cities/towns strive for, and it has an abundance of water (both from the canal and Schuylkill River). Water is what brings people to places like Manayunk, so naturally it should be utilized to its fullest potential.

On Venice Island, a strip of land that was created when the canal was built (back in the early 1800s), there are already some significant projects taking place. A 3 million gallon stormwater storage tank is being installed (to help with flooding during big storms), a new playground is being built, and a performing arts center is being put up as well; everything is expected to be completed by 2014.

In the next few months, another project will break ground that will return flowing water back to the Manayunk canal; financing has already been secured/approved.

The goal for the upcoming planning/project is to make use of an existing asset. Think destinations like San Antonio's RiverWalk, or the canals of Amsterdam. These cities have utilized their waterways as a place for recreation, entertainment, and retail activity.

Main Street already has strong bones along Manayunk's commercial corridor, but more could be done around back to make it world-class.

Comments

By Sharon Paxson,  Fri Jan 24 2014, 07:34
This looks like a really nice area and it is always interesting to watch these upgrades.
By Timothy M. Garrity,  Fri Jan 24 2014, 10:02
Thanks for the comment, Sharon.
By Andrew Janos,  Fri Jan 24 2014, 17:54
Need the weather to warm up so we can all enjoy this again.
By Timothy M. Garrity,  Sat Jan 25 2014, 06:01
I know, right. This may be the coldest Philadelphia winter I can remember.

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