Drumroll, please! The year 2017 marks the 100th birthday of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia’s own Champs-Élysées.
- The year 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the city honors the occasion with the Parkway 100 celebration.
- Parkway 100 celebrations start on September 8, 2017 and continue through November 16, 2018.
- The major events of Parkway 100 are Winter Fountains for the Parkway, Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies and a kickoff festival.
In celebration of the monumental anniversary, the Parkway Council and cultural and residential institutions along the famed Parkway present the Parkway 100 Celebration.
Overview of Parkway 100
The Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia’s impressive cultural boulevard, celebrates its centennial this year with special events, exhibitions, community discussions and more. The iconic street certainly deserves to be celebrated — it’s home to more than a dozen major museums (The Barnes Foundation! Philadelphia Museum of Art!), crowd-drawing festivals (Made in America!), Fourth of July events (fireworks!), the Thanksgiving Day Parade and charity runs and walks all year long.
The festivities kick off this fall on September 8 with a special arts crawl and continue all the way through November 16, 2018.
Throughout the duration of the celebration, guests of the Parkway district can enjoy special installations along the Parkway, the re-release of David Brownlee’s acclaimed book about the Parkway entitled Building the City Beautiful, and themed exhibitions at cultural institutions like Eastern State Penitentiary and the Philadelphia Mormon Temple.
Winter Fountains for the Parkway
One of the marquee exhibitions of Parkway 100 is Winter Fountains for the Parkway, a world premiere nighttime installation made up of five beautiful winter fountains along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Created by artist Jennifer Steinkamp, the exhibition is presented by the Parkway Council, the Association for Public Art (aPA) for Parkway 100 and the William Penn Foundation.
Five fountains measuring seven-and-a-half feet in height and 35 feet in width will fill the parkway to bring even more life to the cultural boulevard after dark. When night falls, the fountains will illuminate with animated video projections that relate to the collections at the Parkway museums and educational institutions. Each fountain will be bedecked with glass beading to create a shimmery display during the daytime and to create a vintage animation-viewing experience during the night.
Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies
In the fall, the Association of Public Art, working with guest curator Lance Fung of Fung Collaboratives, will light up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies, an interactive artwork consisting of 27 luminous, kinetic sculptures in the form of free pedicabs.
Participants will be able to ride inside the moving sculptures, which will travel in a route between Sister Cities Park and Iroquois Park. The exciting artwork runs from September 15 to October 8.
In addition to the special exhibitions, the Parkway welcomes guests for a slew of special events throughout the year, too.
Parkway 100 debuts with the We Are Connected Kickoff Festival on Friday, September 8. Museums, educational centers and public institutions band together for a cultural crawl featuring 100 free activities along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and at the Parkway’s museums. Storytelling, crafts, a community art project, a mural unveiling, museum admission deals and a lighted balloon parade are among the events on tap for the evening.
Additional events throughout the 14-month-long event include a special edition of The Franklin Institute’s popular Night Skies in the Observatory event, a planting day on the Parkway led by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, a concert series in Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul and more.
Stay tuned for more on the special installations, exhibitions and events that mark this monumental occasion. Cheers to 100 years, Benjamin Franklin Parkway!