Wetlands and WetLand in the city

By Christina Catanese, Director of Environmental Art

Often, when I fly into Philadelphia International Airport, I imagine what a bird’s eye view of the area must have looked like back before Philadelphia became the bustling metropolis it is today.  If I squint just the right way, I can almost see how the flat expanse of skyscrapers and rowhomes transforms to green, how South Philly and even the airport itself melt into the freshwater tidal wetlands that were once in their place (the last remnant of which is still visible at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge). Continue reading

Introducing Nature in the City

By Anna Lehr Mueser, Public Relations Manager

When I stepped outside yesterday the morning air was chilly and damp, the sky overcast.  A bus rumbled by me and pulled up to the corner, as I walked by I heard the announcer call out the stop and route number, and listened to my shoes make soft thumping sounds on the pavement.  All around me stood buildings, some only a few stories tall, others much larger.  Everywhere I looked, I saw concrete, glass, steel, and plastic.  But there is more here, in the city, in Philadelphia.

When I look closer, I see moss growing on the side of an old building.  Elsewhere, the leafless forms of city trees draw delicate, graceful lines across a narrow street.  Last spring I found a beautiful, pale blue robin’s egg, cracked open and discarded after the chick hatched, lying on the asphalt alongside Spruce Street, a reminder that humans are not the only things living here.  Nature is here too, in the city.

Today, 80% of Americans live in cities, and as climate change continues, we can expect to see this trend continue and expand globally; we’re headed for a very urban world.  People need nature, we need it in undeveloped mountain ranges, in parks and nature centers, in the city.  This makes it even more important to see and value the natural world that we find in the places where we live.  This idea can mean a lot of different things, perhaps it’s about urban land trusts, or about community gardens, maybe it’s about nature centers and making nature accessible.

This year we’ll be exploring what nature in the city means, to the Schuylkill Center, to our community, to Philadelphia.  Stay with us and keep your eyes open for more on nature in the city throughout the year.