Love Park


LOVE Park is the brainchild of former Philadelphia City Planner Edmund Bacon and architect Vincent Kling. The park is across from City Hall and was designed as a terminus for the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The park, which was designed by Vincent Kling, was built in 1965 and covers an underground parking garage. The main features of the plaza are curved granite steps and a single spout fountain which was added in 1969. What was once the city visitor center was closed down for five years, but opened up in May 2006 as The Fairmount Park Welcome Center. The park was dedicated in 1967 as John F. Kennedy Plaza after President John F. Kennedy. The now famous LOVE sculpture, designed by Robert Indiana, was first placed in the plaza in 1976 as part of the United States’ Bicentennial celebration. It was removed in 1978, but the sculpture was missed and the chairman of Philadelphia Art Commission, F. Eugene Dixon, Jr., bought the sculpture and permanently placed it in the plaza.

The large space, granite surfaces, and curved steps made the plaza attractive to skateboarding and in the 1980s it became a popular location for skateboarders. In the 1990s, LOVE Park’s international reputation as a skateboarding locale had been strengthened by the successes of some its most famous users. Internationally known professional skateboarders like Josh Kalis, Stevie Williams and Philadelphia native Ricky Oyola made their names in the skateboarding industry by being identified with their frequent use of LOVE Park’s ledges and stair sets. Additionally, the status of LOVE Park in international skateboarding culture led to Philadelphia being chosen to host the 2001 and 2002 X-Games, viewed by 150 million people in over 18 countries and attracting nearly a half million spectators during its two year stay. But LOVE Park has been more than the proving ground for professionals or a source of international media interest in Philadelphia, according to Rick Valenzuela, author of City Paper article, “A Eulogy for a Fallen Landmark”

“…LOVE hosted dozens who were content merely to skate there. These were the [skaters] who composed LOVE’s core of regulars—kids who rode the El (the Market-Frankford subway) from the Northeast and Frankford, skated downhill on Market Street from West Philly, through the neighborhoods of South Philly, Center City residents who moved specifically to skate nearby LOVE. It’s these folks whose daylong sessions generated the murmur that would eventually spread throughout the East Coast and to the [skateboarding] industry.”

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