|9 Sep 2022
Written by Kathleen Hogan
This story is part of a series featuring Asian Architects / Designers / Artists of Philly. We will be highlighting incredible murals that are a part of Mural Arts Philadelphia, urban street art that is part of Philadelphia Museum of Art's collection or other collections, urban spaces that embody Asian culture, and buildings designed by some of the most renowned architects from around the world. We will be featuring short blog posts written by members of Urban Design Committee, as well as guest posts by Committee on the Environment, Environmental Justice subcommittee and others. Stay tuned for more!
Right along the north end of Chinatown on the Vine Street corridor stands the 10th Street Plaza, a revitalized open space that was once an underutilized concrete sidewalk island. The plaza was implemented by the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC) as part of its Neighborhood Reconnecting Project to promote connectivity to the less attentive northern region of the Vine Street Expressway. It was designed by KSK Architects, Planners, Historians, Inc. and Pennoni Engineers and constructed by J.S. Cornell & Son, Inc. Sponsorship for the project includes the conservation partnerships program of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Hahnemann University Hospital (Tenet). The project cost $300,000 and took six years to complete.
Dedicated in 2011, the 10th street plaza consists of trees lined behind an Asian-style pergola trellis with seating underneath, two seven-ton Foo dog statues stationed at each end, and an 8 foot tall statue of General Lin Zexu - a revered Chinese scholar who opposed the British imports of opium leading to the First Opium War in 1839. Over the years, planter boxes and additional benches were added on the street side of the plaza, with placards showcasing historical highlights of the community's resilience against gentrification. Almost a decade later, the PCDC and Asian Arts Initiative commissioned a ground mural on the plaza by local Chinese artist Chenlin Cai. The mural “Koi Pond” is a colorful rendition of an aerial view of a koi fish pond, adorned with water lily pads and a map of Chinatown's unique local landmarks. The plaza has since become more of a family friendly experience for residents and passerbys alike.
It is interesting to note that the Plaza could be seen as a small dedication to Fujian Province. The statues were created from granite from the Fujian province in China. General Lin Zexu was born in Fujian as is PAFA alumni Chenlin Cai. The Fujian Association of Philadelphia (a local nonprofit organization) agrees to provide care and upkeep of the plaza.
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