Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park Reservoir Dr

VAMONDE Philadelphia
Written By VAMONDE Philadelphia

Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park is the largest park in Philadelphia and used to be the name for a group of parks located throughout the city. Fairmount Park consists of two park sections named East Park and West Park, divided by the Schuylkill River.

Many other city parks had also been historically included in the Fairmount Park system prior to 2010, including Wissahickon Valley Park, Pennypack Park, Cobbs Creek Park, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park in South Philadelphia and 58 additional parks, parkways, plazas, squares and public golf courses spread throughout the city. Since the 2010 reorganization of the parks, however, the term "Fairmount Park system" is no longer used.


The original area of Fairmount Park consisted of three areas: "South Park" or the South Garden immediately below the Fairmount Water Works extending to the Callowhill Street Bridge; "Old Park," which encompassed the former estates of Lemon Hill and Sedgeley; and West Park, the area including the Philadelphia Zoo and the Centennial Exposition grounds.

The park grew out of the Lemon Hill estate of Henry Pratt. Purchased by the city in 1844, the estate was dedicated to the public by city council's ordinance on September 15, 1855.

Fairmount Park was the site of the 1876 Centennial Exposition and the first zoo in the United States, the Philadelphia Zoo. These events led to its designation on the National Register of Historic Places.


The park is large and includes several buildings and spaces such as the Centennial Arboretum, Horticulture Center, Fairmount Water Works, Memorial Hall (home of the Please Touch Museum), Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, Boathouse Row, Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse as well as many others.

Public art

Fairmount Park is home to a large collection of public art, largely due to the efforts of the Association for Public Art, which is tasked with adding outdoor sculpture to the park.

Historic houses

Since Fairmount Park used to be an estate, there are many historic homes in the park as well. Examples of two historic homes include Mount Pleasant, built in 1762–65 for a Scottish ship captain named John Macpherson, and administers Cedar Grove Mansion, a house built in 1748–50.

Sedgeley Mansion was built in 1799 on Lemon Hill, then abandoned and later demolished by the city in 1857. The Sedgeley property also included a servant's cottage constructed of stone which still exists today. The cottage was designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe and is currently known as the Sedgeley Porter's House.

Information sourced from Wikipedia. Cover Image by Frederikto and sourced from Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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