A young women leans out of the second story window of Studio Nine Photography wielding a serious-looking digital camera. "People on the sides squeeze in!" she orders to a group of people posing down below on the street, before snapping a few shots. On Saturday, May 10, the Friends of Bainbridge Green (FOBG) gathered at the fountain on 3rd and Bainbridge to recreate a historic photo from 1910, and kicked off their unfolding plans to re-imagine and, eventually, redesign the small park area known as Bainbridge Green that runs down the middle of Bainbridge Street between 5th and 3rd streets.
After the photo, people chatted under a white tent, snacking on coffee and cookies while sharing ideas, examining a blueprint of the park, and filling out surveys asking about what kinds of additions (a sculpture garden? a placard commemorating Washington Market?) they'd like to see in the park. Kids and a few adults drew patterns along the concrete fountain with colorful chalk. A handful of older neighbors, some who've lived in the area for forty plus years, discussed all the changes they've witnessed throughout the decades.
Jonathan Rubin (owner of Studio Nine Photography) and Lauren Leonard (Queen Village Board Co-Chair) buzzed around, greeting newcomers and explaining the project. The two recently applied for and were awarded a grant from the Community Design Collaborative to revamp the Green, an area they believe has a ton of underutilized potential. The CDC has assigned them a group of landscape designers, architect and traffic pattern experts to help turn this plan into a reality.
While the project is still in its infancy, there are some changes they're certain of — for instance, Jonathan pointed to a giant brick wall blocking the sight lines from Third Street onwards. "That is coming down," he says. They also both made a point to note that no version of the redesign plans will take even one parking spot away, a major concern for residents and businesses in Queen Village.
Their main goal is for the space to get used. "We want this to become a social hub, a real place for people to gather, and a park that's sustainably designed with long-term usability in mind," Lauren says. She envisions students from local school learning about plants, folks from Fleisher setting up easels to draw plein air, yoga classes practicing outdoors, people eating lunch on bench/planter combos, and more.
Another thing the duo is sure of is that they want as much community involvement in the Bainbridge Green decision-making process as possible. For more information on the FOBG or to stay updated about their task force meeting planned for later in May, visit their Facebook page.
EMILY KOVACH writes about food, beer and other delicious things in Philadelphia.