Franklin Square is one of Philadelphia’s five original squares (open space parks) laid out when William Penn planned the city streets in 1682. Center Square, now occupied by City Hall and the surrounding courtyard is hardly an open space, and no longer known by the name. However, the four remaining squares have kept their names and their open space park feel. They include Rittenhouse, Washington, Logan, and today’s lunchtime tourist feature, Franklin Square.
Franklin Square sits near the intersection of 6th and Race Streets, and is the only one of the four squares dedicated specifically for family fun. Yahoo.com recently ranked Franklin Square in the top five playgrounds in the United States.
In the park’s center sits the beautiful Franklin Square fountain, perfect for a wish and a coin toss. Other features include the Liberty Carousel, a miniature golf course with a historic Independence Hall theme, and the famous Square Burger, home to legendary Cake Shake, a delicious combo of ice cream and local favorite, TastyKakes®. Like cheesesteaks, soft pretzels, water ice and scrapple, the Cake Shake is an original Philly treat.
Franklin Square is named for local hero Benjamin Franklin, and legend maintains that this is the spot where he conducted his electricity experiment with a kite and key in 1752. Artist Isamu Noguchi’s large stainless steel sculpture, The Bolt of Lightning, sits across 6th Street and adds to the legend.
The park is open Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., making it perfect for a lunchtime visit. There are plenty of other food vendors in the area if you want something other than a burger.
For me, it is a 10-minute walk down 6th Street, giving me ample time to enjoy the weather (when it’s not humid and raining like it has been most of the summer), the colorful center city citizens I pass on the way, and a fabulous Cake Shake. It may not be the most nutritious lunch I have ever had, but it was perfect for a summer day.
Check out the other options in the lunchtime tourist series. These excursions are perfect if you want to explore Philly on your lunch hour (and work downtown), or if you’re a visitor with an hour or so to spare.