Visit to Fairmount Park and UPenn

I have been visiting Philadelphia since 2014, and I cannot stop writing about it. Every time I find something new to do there. Philadelphia (like New York) is best explored by walking. Today I am going to write about my walking experience for the entire of Sunday.

I have stayed typically around center city every time I have visited Philadelphia. This time I got to stay little far on the banks of river Delaware. If you look at the map of city of Philadelphia, you will notice that most of the city is tucked between two rivers. One on the east, Delaware river, and other on west Schuylkill river. Last time I visited Philadelphia was winter. In fact, prior visit have been during the winter. This one was, just last month, which is summer. I had written about my experience frozen Delaware river by night in the past. I have explored most of the city which is tucked between these two rivers, most of it is historical, with many monuments, museums, which has touch of Benjamin Franklin. This time I decided to go westward, near Schuylkill river, which is where Fairmount Park is situated. In fact, it is on both the banks. I also wanted to visit UPenn and surrounding area which is even further west, and west of the river too.

That Sunday I woke to beautiful Sun rise vistas of Franklin Bridge over the Delaware river from my hotel window.

Delaware River

View of the Delaware river and Benjamin Franklin bridge

My westward journey started soon after. I decided to walk on Market Street, the famous, and equally historical, which connects both east and west, the two rivers. The city between two rivers is nicely planned, with square grid of roads, like Manhattan in New York. I quickly reached city hall at the center of the city, and walked past that towards Philadelphia Museum of Art. I could have continued on Market Street and crossed the Schuylkill river, but I wanted to enter the Fairmount Park, hence decided to go by the museum.

I have been at the museum in the past. More about it later though, but for now, as I started getting inside the park, behind the museum, I got sight the river, and the woods, bushes beyond west bank. It was Sunday morning. I could see quite a few people walking, running, and even biking on the nicely laid out trails, walkways. The weather was fantastic, I could sense the freshness in the air here. Right behind the museum, there is historic site of water works building which is not in use now. It is called National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. There were few sculptures created by America’s first sculptor William Rush. There is an old bund or small dam on the river near the water works. This also is an rowing area. I kept on walking towards north, with river on my left hand (west side) soon I found myself walking by Kelley Drive.

There was a cycle rental shop on the way, also old houses belonging to rowing clubs. This area is called Boathouse Row. Soon I was under one of many old bridges over the river connecting east side to west side. This is called Girard Avenue Bridge. I walked another mile and half on the trail, I came across another railway bridge. I was looking to cross over to the other side of the park and the river, but none of these bridges had way for that. I decided to return back, taking the same trail, crossed the point where I had started, and walked till I hit Market Street bridge, where I found a way to cross the river. My next point in this walking tour was famous Ivy League university, fondly called UPenn, founded by Benjamin Franklin( I have written about his legacy in the city of Philadelphia here earlier).

I walked on Market Street till intersection of 36th Street, crossing historic Amtrak station at 30th Street, Drexel University buildings.

Market Street Bridge

Beautiful facade of the bridge over Schuylkill river on Market Street

As I entered the campus area, I noticed Institute of Contemporary Arts. It was noon time, I was hungry. I made a pit stop at Cosi near the institute for food. I noticed Penn Book Store by the restaurant, which was huge book store, also selling UPenn merchandise. Next, I wanted to visit world famous business school located here, Wharton School of Business. I soon found it, but could not enter it. As I walked further, I found myself in the beautiful area called Locust Walk. This is very famous tree-lined pedestrian walkway, housing many old and new buildings. Further walk down, got me on the little bridge called Class of 1949 Generational Bridge over 38th Street below.

Then I went to the main building of the UPenn, which is called College Hall built in 1871, has impressive Gothic style features. There is sitting statue of none other than Benjamin Franklin in front of it. I rested there for a while, it was quite Sunday afternoon, having mainly visitors, as schools were off for summer vacation.

The campus is spread cross various crossing streets on Market, Walnut, Chestnut, Spruce, Locust streets which have been part of center city since the very beginning.


My last stop was at Penn Museum. This is  museum operated by university’s archaeology and anthropology department. This department is famous for its various expeditions, discoveries since beginning. It houses many of artifacts collected are showcased across multiple floors of the museum. With a 10 dollar fee, it is certainly worth a visit. I spent about three hours there. The building itself is classic building built in 1899. There is a Japanese style specialty fish pond in front of the building called Koi Pond. I recalled my visit to Pune’s own Deccan College of Archaeology and Anthropology’s museum sometime back.

My walk did not stop there. I returned back to hotel walking all the way again towards Delaware river. Thereby completing my Delaware river to Schuylkill river round trip!



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