Frequently Asked Questions about Penn Park

The massive Penn Park project has transformed the eastern edge of campus from a series of surface parking lots and a former industrial site into a landscape of connected green public spaces, sports fields and pedestrian bridges.

Have some questions about this new 24-acre site? Well, we have answers.

For more on Penn Park, click here.

Q. What is Penn Park?
A. Penn Park is 24 acres of continuous open space that includes athletic and recreational facilities owned and operated by the University. This new amenity, bordered on the north by Walnut Street, the east by Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor rail line, the west by SEPTA’s Regional Rail line, and to the south by South Street, is connected to 10 acres of pre-existing Penn athletic facilities to its south known as the River Fields Complex.   

Q. Is Penn Park open to the public? 
A. Yes. Penn Park is open to the public. Non-affiliated parties can enjoy the multiple open spaces for recreation, and use the area as a pedestrian connection for walking, jogging and biking. While the athletic facilities exist primarily for the Penn community and its guests, they are available via permit and reservation to accommodate specific games, tournaments, and appropriate structured and unstructured games, sports tournaments, concerts and special events. For more information on how to rent an athletic venue, or reserve a space for special events, please visit http://pennpark.upenn.edu.

Q. Does the park have operating hours?
A. Yes. The park hours of operation are from 6 a.m. to midnight. Individual facilities within the park will be scheduled through Penn’s Department of Recreation and Intramural Athletics.

Q. How is Penn Park accessed? 
A. Four pedestrian access points link the park to the surrounding core of campus and the city: The Paley Bridge connects the complex to Franklin Field, The Palestra and the Weiss Pavilion area; the Walnut Street footbridge links the intersection of 30th and Walnut Streets into the park in a sweeping and elegant design; the Weave Bridge runs above the Amtrak rail lines to the athletic fields south of the Hollenback Center; and the Class of 1976 Entrance Plaza is located at 31st and Lower Walnut Streets, adjacent to Penn’s Ice Rink at the Class of 1923 Arena. The latter is the sole vehicular access to the park, providing access to the parking lot along Lower Walnut Street. 

Q What are the public safety elements in the park?
A. The park is patrolled 24 hours a day, seven days a week by Division of Public Safety Penn Police officers and Allied Barton officers, as well as virtual closed circuit TV. In addition, a centrally located security kiosk provides a full-time location for public safety support. There are 16 Blue Light emergency phones throughout Penn Park.

Q. How much space does it add to Penn’s campus?
A. Fourteen acres, which brings the total continuous acreage of Penn’s campus to 283 and increases the green/open space by 20 percent. 

Q. What was on the land before Penn Park?
A. The area immediately south of Walnut Street was a 14-acre surface parking facility for the U.S. Postal Service; prior to that it was used industrially.

Q. What kind of vegetation is planted within the park?
A. One of the appealing features of Penn Park is the return of vegetation and plant life to an area that was paved in asphalt and an industrial site for decades. Specific native and adaptive plants are used throughout the site to reduce irrigation requirements. Of the 548 trees found within Penn Park, some species include: catalpa, hackberry, swamp white oak, white pine, metasequoia, larch and balsam pine. These species were selected with specific attention to where they appear relative to their position on the land, with trees that prefer wet soil conditions planted in the lower levels, and hedgerow trees, which are more drought resistant, planted along the top of the landforms.

Q. What are the sustainable aspects of the park?
A. Apart from providing significant new green space and a state-of-the-art storm water management system, Penn Park uses basins to decrease runoff effects, low flow/flush faucets and toilets in the restrooms to reduce clean water consumption and light shields on the sports lighting fixtures.

For a longer list of FAQs, visit http://pennpark.upenn.edu.

Originally published on September 15, 2011