The rendering at right shows a rain garden proposed for a vacant lot at 1900 Point Breeze Avenue. PWD will be touring this site and a second vacant lot on the 1700 block of Ringgold Street.

We kicked off October with a ribbon cutting at a formerly vacant lot at 55th and Hunter streets in West Philadelphia that is now a vibrant green space featuring a rain garden and hidden storage trench that manage stormwater and protect local waterways while adding a whole new asset to the neighborhood.

On October 18, we’ll be holding a walking tour at two sites in Point Breeze where similar rain gardens could bring flowers and plants to vacant lots, adding new green spaces to the area and helping to protect the local watershed. Join us at 5pm at 1701 Ringgold to start the tour:

This map shows where PWD will meet for the Oct. 18 vacant lot tour.

For reference, residents of Point Breeze can look to the West Philly project—a part of the neighborhood the community now refers to as the Heston Garden—as a model for what can be done with partnerships and green infrastructure investments on vacant land. (See photos of the ribbon cutting)

The first large-scale PWD project on a vacant lot, it’s a space that showcases what the Green City, Clean Waters program is all about: protecting Philadelphia’s rivers and creeks with projects that also make our neighborhoods better places to live and provide environmental benefits.

At the heart of the transformation at 55th and Hunter is a beautiful landscaped rain garden that, combined with other nearby green infrastructure improvements, helps to keep tens of thousands of gallons of polluted water from overwhelming our sewer system and hurting the Schuylkill River every time it rains.

So, we get cleaner water, the residents get a space that encourages outdoor activity, and the plants provide food to important pollinators (like honey bees) while cleaning the air and soaking up water. And all this is happening in space that used to be a vacant lot.

While we are working with partners like Parks and Recreation and the Streets Department to bring Green City, Clean Waters improvements to recreation centers, streets, sidewalks and more, vacant lots offer a special opportunity. That’s because so many communities are looking for ways to take these properties and turn them into positive parts of the neighborhood fabric.

With the help of neighbors and our partners across Philadelphia, we’ll be looking for ways to invest in vacant land in a way that both protects our precious waterways and makes our neighborhoods better places to live.

Come out on Oct. 18 and see what Green City, Clean Waters could do for two more lots in Philly—we think you’ll agree that a greener future is a better future for everyone. Want to spread the word? Invite friends on Facebook!