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Fairmount Park Commission

[Record group 149]
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Agency Function
The mission of the Fairmount Park Commission is to preserve and protect its open space; provide opportunities for recreation; and maintain the landscapes and structures, streams and woodlands that exist within its 8,700 acres. The 63 neighborhood and regional parks managed by the Park Commission comprise the largest municipally operated landscaped park system in the United States.

In addition to managing open spaces, the Park Commission operates numerous and diverse recreation facilities and activities within the Park. These include seven recreation centers; nine day camps; 22 playgrounds; 127 tennis courts at 15 locations; 160 baseball, football, soccer, and softball fields; 35 basketball courts; four outdoor pools; and numerous hiking trails. Many special events also take place in the Park, including several running events, bicycle and antique car races, walk-a-thons, regattas, and small and large picnics, including the Greek Picnic with over 100,000 participants annually from around the country.

Administrative Subunits
Administration and General Support
Operations and landscape Management
Building and Construction
Park Programs

Agency History
The Fairmount Park Commission was established by an Act of Assembly of 26 March 1867 which provided that the Board of Commissioners be composed of the Mayor, Presidents of Select and Common Councils, and two city engineers ex-officio, and of ten unpaid court-appointed citizens.

The Act authorized the City to purchase land for Fairmount Park in order to preserve the purity of the City's water supply and provide a place of public enjoyment for the people of Philadelphia. The Commission was given charge of and responsibility for all park lands vested in the City which Councils would consign to its care. The first of these, and specified by the Act, was the Lemon Hill estate dedicated as Fairmount Park by an ordinance of 28 September 1855. An Act of 14 April 1868 enlarged and defined the specific powers of the Fairmount Park Commission, including the authority to establish a Fairmount Park Guard. The earliest chief extensions of the Commission's jurisdiction included the acquisition of authority over the Wissahickon Valley by ordinance of 4 March 1868, over Hunting Park (dedicated as a City park by an ordinance of 10 July 1856) by virtue of an Act of 15 May 1871. The Commission's organization passed virtually unchanged through the era of the Bullitt Bill and the City charters of 1919 and 1951. In April 1951, the Fairmount Park Commission was incorporated as a part of the Philadelphia City government with the adoption of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter and designated a departmental commission of the Department of Recreation.

The Fairmount Park Commission has 16 members, of whom 10 are citizens appointed for five-year terms by the Board of Judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia. The remaining 6 are ex-officio members and include the Mayor, the President of City Council, the Commissioner of Public Property, the Recreation Commissioner, the Water Commissioner and the Chief Engineer and Surveyor of the Department of Streets.

Archival Records
149.1 Board of Commissioners. Minutes (1867-1995)

149.2 Board of Commissioners. Appendix to Minutes (1869-1903)

149.2a Board of Commissioners. Stenographic Transcripts of Meetings (November 1967 - December 1994)

149.3 Annual Report (1868-1871, 1877, 1899, 1912-1917, 1937-1969, 1972-1975, 1977-1978, 1987-1989)

149.4 Board of Commissioners. Correspondence and Papers (1870-1916, 1929, 1946-1967, 1983)

149.5 Board of Commissioners. Excerpted Resolutions, Correspondence (1868-1876)

149.6 Title Papers, Fairmount Park Property (1867-ca. 1954)

149.7 Park Solicitor, Files (1871-1935)

149.8 Fairmount Park, Wissahickon Valley, Plans and Descriptions (1873-1925)

149.9 Fort Washington Extension of Fairmount Park (1915-1932)

149.10 Ordinances and Acts of Assembly Relating to Fairmount Park (1868, 1912, 1917, 1933)

149.11 Reports and Publications (1855-1986)

149.12 Committee on Superintendence and Police. Minutes (1872-1914)

149.13 Committee of Superintendence. Minutes (1914 - 1930)

149.14 Committee of Superintendence and Police. Minutes (1930-1936)

149.15 Executive Committee. Minutes (1936 - 1949)

149.16 Committee on Land Purchases and Damages. Minutes (1867-1931)

149.17 Committee on Plans and Improvements. Minutes (1868 - 1931; missing February 1869 - December 1871)

149.18 Committee on Art Museum. Minutes (June - October 1911)

149.19 Executive Committee. Minutes (1877 - 1880)

149.20 Finance Committee. Minutes (January 7, 1880 and January 25, 1881 only)

149.21 Committee on Hunting Park. Minutes (1872 - 1887)

149.22 Committee on Memorial Hall. Minutes (1883, 1894 - 1911)

149.23 Special Committee on Repairs to Memorial Hall (1880-1884)

149.24 Special Committee on Merion Railroad and Gravity Railroad. Minutes (September-October 1880)

149.25 Committee on the Preservation of the Purity of the Water Supply. Minutes (16 January 1883)

149.26 Committee on the Washington Monument. (5 January 1889)

149.27 Captain of Fairmount Park Guard. "Statistics" (1870-1987)

149.28 Captain of Fairmount Park Guard. Guard's Time Book (1870-1874)

149.29 Captain of Fairmount Park Guard. Guard's Service Record (1933-1936)

149.29a Fairmount Park Guard. Arrest Book (28 June 1927 - 18 February 1952)

149.30 Chief Engineer. Annual Report (1927-1936)

149.31 Chief Engineer. Topographical Map of Fairmount Park. (1894 (1897))

149.32 Committee on Outlying Parks. Minutes (14 October 1912 - 19 July 1929)

149.33 Accounts for Work Done Each Day (January 1888 - July 1891)

149.34 Permanent Improvements. Item Book (1869-1872)

149.35 Item Book (1888-1891)

149.36 Appropriations and Expenditures (1922-1951)

149.37 Map of Farms and Lots Embraced Within the Limits of Fairmount Park (ca. 1868-1869)

149.38 Regulations (1964)

149.39 Topographical Maps (1982-1986)

149.40 Committee on Recreational Activities. Annual Report (1938)

149.41 Committee on Securities, Minutes (16 February 1954 - 21 April 1978)

Current Records
149.a Capital Project Reports

149.b Completed Project Files

149.c Contract Drawings and Plans

149.d Events Files

149.e Facility Permits

149.f Inspection Reports

149.g Leases on Park Property or Buildings

149.h Park Development Planning

149.i Rental and Concessions

149.j Street Tree Database

149.k Street Tree Plans

149.l Tree Maintenance Permits

149.m Trust Fund Documents

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Last updated on November 8, 2000