What’s in a name: Clark Park

Crossposted to Hidden City Philadelphia.

Entrance to Clark Park, 42nd & Baltimore (Simon/Flickr)

Entrance to Clark Park, 42nd & Baltimore (Simon/Flickr)

If West Philly has a recreational hub, it’s Clark Park: 9.1 acres of grass and trees and paths and playgrounds and a hunk of stone from the Gettysburg battlefield and half of the world’s known statues of Charles Dickens.

Like Philadelphia itself, the 119-year-old park has seen its ups and downs. After a spate of improvements in theĀ 1960s, it deteriorated for decades until neighbors, non-profits and the city’s recreation department teamed up to whip things back in shape. Today, Clark Park hosts summer festivals, a farmers’ market, and a bunch of kids who run around on Saturdays with foam swords.

It’s a safe bet that few of the basketballers and chess players and dog walkers know why their park, which marks its birthday on Jan. 18, is named Clark. Yet its namesake played so many prominent roles in Philly and beyond that it is a bit astounding that this well-loved triangle of land is almost the only thing that still bears his name. Continue reading →