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Philadelphia Park System History

Historic preservation and cultural resource management is a core value within Philadelphia Parks & Recreation's mission and is an important economic catalyst for the park system. The breadth and scope of historic resources within the Philadelphia’s Park & Recreation Department (PPR) spans hundreds of years of history and includes Native Americans, founding fathers, architectural masterpieces, landmark sculptures, gardens, industrial landscapes, farms, cemeteries and William Penn’s legendary “greene country” squares. With more than 200 historic buildings (50 years or older) and 250 pieces of sculpture, PPR has one of the largest collections of cultural and historic resources in the Commonwealth.
Founded in 1855, Fairmount Park represents one of the earliest endeavors in the American park movement.  
Today the Planning, Preservation and Property Management Division of PPR seeks to protect and interpret these significant natural, historic and cultural treasures.

Planning, Preservation and Property Management

Technical Assistance
  • Building and landscape preservation
  • Preservation planning and designation
  • Historic collections management
  • Interpretative programs
  • Project development and archaeology 

Assist Friends Organizations
  • Enhance programs
  • Properties and collections within the park system.

The Fairmount Park Historic Preservation Trust Partnership »

In 1992 Fairmount Park drafted a city ordinance to create a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, known as the Fairmount Park Historic Preservation Trust, to assist with leasing underutilized historic properties in the park system and provide hands-on technical conservation services for historic resources.
Since its formation, the Trust and the parks department have worked hand-in hand to raise millions of dollars for the preserve of the park’s cultural assets.

Philadelphia Firsts

  • Zoo
  • Botanical Garden
  • Paper Mill
  • Municipal Water Works

PPR Properties

Some PPR properties are available for long-term leasing and adaptive reuse.

Please note that PPR properties can’t be leased for private residences and must be open to the public in some approved capacity.