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An Open Letter From Christine Rojek

Christine Rojek is the artist who won the competition to install a piece of sculpture at Womrath Park.


Dear Frankford Residents:

It was a pleasure to meet so many of you at the community meeting and presentation of the Womrath Park Gateway Sculpture proposals on January 27 th at the Second Baptist Church. Your input, openness to new ideas , and your enthusiasm for the artist’s process of design was encouraging and heartwarming.

My proposal, entitled Confluence, is a cluster of three sculptures that celebrates the evolution of Frankford. My ideas sprung from the two primary reasons that Frankford exists: Frankford Avenue and Frankford Creek. The trail, or road, lead a steady stream of people through the area and the creek created a flow of energy and opportunity . The fast moving water provided the source of industry followed by the birth of the community. The creek was the reason the people stayed.


My goal as an artist is to create one clear icon for Frankford surrounded by a “timeline of images ” that celebrate the evolution of this neighborhood from open land to a diverse community. The large central feature will be a dynamic “Rushing Water Form” as the symbol of the creek and of life. The sculpted water shapes will flow around a brightly colored waterwheel that represents industry, tenacity, and the potential for new growth.


Clustered around the central f eature (Rushing Water with Waterwheel) will be two decorative panels . Together , they will define an area to gather, stroll , and learn. The panel located to the South ( History Panel ) will describe the open landscape, early architecture , and events from Frankford’s past . The panel on the North ( Community Panel ) will describe more recent memories, current events , and urban architecture.


As part of my research for this sculpture, I’d like to invite you to share your memories and impressions of Frankford with me. I plan to interpret y our stories and special images into a large drawing , or graphic design. This design will then be cut into metal to form the decorative panels described above. Below are some of the questions you might consider:

1. How has the natural landscape changed along the road?

2. How has the natural landscape changed along the creek?

3. How was the creek used for recreation in the past and how is it used today?

4. What do you know about the beginning of industry in Frankford? Did any family members work in the mills?

5. What stories have you been told about the construction of the elevated train and how it changed Frankford? What do you remember about your first ride?

6. What stories or images of historic Frankford are most intriguing to you?

7. What is your favorite piece of architecture from early Frankford? Does this structure still exist?

8. What is your favorite storefront or piece of architecture from contemporary Frankford?

9. What parts of the neighborhood do you feel define Frankford today?

Thank you, Christine Rojek

Follow this link for more information and a way to leave your comments and suggestions.


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Artist Finalists Visit Womrath Park

The five finalists competing for the opportunity to create a sculpture in Womrath Park visited the site for the first time on November 25th.  The weather was ideal but cold as the group, along with city representatives and members of the public, heard some of the history of the park and its present condition.  The sculpture is intended to become the central feature of the park.destination frankford

The group then met at the Globe Dye Works for further discussions.  Final proposals from the five will be presented to the selection committee on January 27th, 2014.  On the same evening, they will give shorter presentations to which the public will be invited. The winning proposal will be unveiled to the public in February.  The contract for the successful artist will be finalized in April and installation is scheduled to be completed by November of next year.

Proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Conveys high artistic quality;
  • Communicates with a wide public audience;
  • Possesses a fresh and innovative approach;
  • Highlights and preserves the uniqueness of the community;
  • Includes an interactive component;
  • Expresses a welcoming spirit;
  • Adheres to specific dimensional and other physical requirements;
  • Pays attention to public safety;
  • Presents resistance to vandalism;
  • Demonstrates durability of materials; and
  • Is environmentally thoughtful.

The finalists are:  Jake Beckman, Pete Beeman, Jim Galucci, Robert Roesch and Christine Rojek.  Click on the names to see samples of their past work.

Funding for this project, the central component of the Destination Frankford initiative, is supported by a grant from ArtPlace America, a collaboration of leading national and regional foundations, banks and federal agencies accelerating creative placemaking across the US

Thanks to Ian Litwin, Project Manager, and the City Planning Commission for making this a reality.


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Finalists Chosen for Womrath Park Gateway Sculpture

art panel

Panel reviewing artists

Destination Frankford is a creative placemaking project supported by a grant from ArtPlace America, a collaboration of leading national and regional foundations, banks and federal agencies accelerating creative placemaking across the US.

Creative placemaking has been employed across the nation by public, private, and community partners to shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood around the arts, cultural activities, and the principles of walkable urbanism. Creative placemaking animates public and private spaces, rejuvenates structures and streetscapes, improves local business viability and public safety, and brings diverse people together to celebrate, inspire, and be inspired. Destination Frankford embodies these principles and welcomes artists to work collaboratively with the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and the Frankford community. Destination Frankford seeks to capitalize on Frankford’s industrial heritage and its growing arts and design community to create a distinctive, clear image of Frankford as a place for creative, entrepreneurial businesses.

100 artists responded to the Request for Qualifications by the November 1st deadline to participate in the competition to design and install the gateway sculpture.  A review by a panel of experts winnowed the possible finalists down to 18.  At a meeting on November 19th, with input from the Frankford Community, 5 finalists and 1 alternate were selected.

These finalists will now work on a design for the final competition.  They will make a site visit to Womrath park on November 25th at 1PM where the public is invited to meet the artists.  This is an opportunity to talk about Frankford with them and hopefully provide some input to the process.  After the tour of Womrath park, the group will then move to the Globe Dye works for more discussion and light refreshments.

Their design proposals are due on January 25th and will be unveiled to at a public meeting in February.  The installation is due to be completed in November 0f 2014.

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Construction at Womrath Park

Last week, the construction fence went up around Womrath Park.  It seems like about 3 years since I first heard that a rain garden would become a feature at Womrath.  After a few meetings, it started to make sense and along with the murals that will go up this Summer and Fall, Womrath Park will become a real gateway to Frankford.  You can read more about the plan in our previous post here.

When it is finished, the big old trees will remain but there will be some new paths and a water feature at the South end.  They have taken great pains to do no harm to those big trees by surrounding them with bright orange marker fences to keep the heavy equipment safely away.

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Rain Garden at Womrath Park Moving Forward

North end of the park where water collection will start

Back in February I attended a meeting on what I thought would be of little interest to me.  I like water but I wasn’t all that interested in watersheds.  It turned out to be one of the more interesting ideas I’ve encountered this year.

The plan to build the rain garden at Womrath Park is moving forward with construction likely to begin in the Spring of 2012.  Unfortunately it will close off the park for a significant time but the end result will be worth it.

We took a walk through with the water folks (Ashley Schmid and Valessa Souter-Kline) on Wednesday and the picture of what will emerge became a lot clearer.   Water will be collected starting at the high end of the park and end up in a water garden at the lower end.  This is how it sounds in Water Department language:

“Located one block north of Frankford Creek adjacent to the Market-Frankford El in a busy commercial district, Womrath Park presents a unique opportunity to demonstrate green stormwater infrastructure in a dense urban setting. Four modified curbside inlets will intercept stormwater from a 80,000 SF catchment area into a series of pipes and vegetated swales that convey the flow to a 3000 SF rain garden at the southern end of the site. Planted with native grasses, perennials, trees and shrubs, the rain garden will absorb and filter stormwater alleviating pressure on Philadelphia’s combined sewer system. Existing park benches and tables are well positioned to view and observe the rain garden, and new signage will educate and inform park users on the important role of this green stormwater infrastructure.”

South end of the park where the rain garden will be located

That is kind of how nature cleans up water, now Philadelphia is catching up and trying to use that plan.  It will save a fortune in building additional sewer treatment facilities of the next 25 years.  Seems like a good deal.

You can see a short video here with a better explanation than I give here of what is going to be happening.  Here is a summary of some of the details in a handout.

Lots of exciting things going on here in Frankford.