Established in 1895, Clark Park is in the heart of Philadelphia’s University City neighborhood.
With more than 300 trees, the park covers nine acres. The park’s boundaries are Baltimore Avenue, Woodland Avenue, 43rd Street and 45th Street. (Find us on Google Maps.)
In addition to private residences, the park’s neighbors include the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, the HMS School for children with Cerebral Palsy and a City of Philadelphia District Health Center.
Clark Park is named for Clarence H. Clark, who was the first president of the First National Bank of Philadelphia and a founder of the Union League. He owned an estate at 42nd and Locust Streets and he owned the land that would later become Clark Park. The land was being used as a public dumping grounds in the early 1890’s. An ordinance was passed on June 8th, 1894, condemning the land bounded by 43rd and 44th streets and Baltimore and Chester Avenues. There was an assessment against the property of a few thousand dollars for the laying out of the bordering streets. Clark suggested the land be used as a park. In return for the waiver of the assessment Clark deeded the land to the city.
The first portion of the Park was dedicated on January 18th,1895. The balance of the 9.1 acre park was added in November, 1898, after the city paid Clark $103,000. (A small segment of the land was owned by Franklin S. Hovey, who got $4,859 for his portion.) The deed restricts the use of the land for anything besides park purposes. It was Clark’s expressed desire that the park be dedicated to children.
Mill Creek once flowed where 43rd street is now located. The native Americans called the creek Nanganesey. To the Swedes, it was Quarn Creek or Moenson’s Mill Fall. During the 1890s, the creek was covered over and turned into a sewer line. The present Bowl in the park was a pond formed by the creek.
The Woodland Avenue trolley dates back to the 1830’s. The Baltimore Ave. trolley dates back to the 1890’s. The Chester Avenue trolley was installed sometime between these two periods.
The Gettysburg Stone and Satterlee Hospital
(See our page on Satterlee Hospital.)
Between 1861 and 1865, Satterlee Hospital–a 4,500 bed military hospital which treated many of the wounded from Gettysburg– existed on the site of what is now Clark Park. Today, the Gettysburg Stone commemorates the work of the physicians, surgeons, and nurses of Satterlee.
More recently, in June, 1961, $40,000 in improvements in Clark Park was completed. The project included a basketball court, shuffleboard court, checker tables, a tot-lot, two drinking fountains and general landscaping. These were the last major capital improvement projects until the development of the Revitalization Plan in 2001.
Most of this history was compiled by Edythe Ferris and Robert A. Brothers in 1974, when the Friends of Clark Park was founded.