For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development


Renewed park is part of larger plans to enhance and expand Parkway Central Library

PHILADELPHIA, August 9, 2011—The Free Library of Philadelphia will reopen Shakespeare Park on 19th and Vine streets today after a major renovation that was part of the plans to enhance the Parkway Central Library. Shakespeare Park, situated between the Library and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, is now home to new landscaping, flowerbeds, walkways, and light fixtures. The renovation of Shakespeare Park was made possible with generous support from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).

Free Library President and Director Siobhan A. Reardon celebrated the re-opening of Shakespeare Park alongside an erudite Elizabethan orator and the team of construction workers who worked on renovating the Park. Ms. Reardon discussed the importance of having green spaces, like Shakespeare Park, that allow for quiet thought and reflection, before asking the workers to remove the fencing around the renovated Park.

“What an exciting day for the Free Library and the City of Philadelphia,” said Reardon. “Along with the great exterior work on our 84-year-old building, the reopening of Shakespeare Park marks the first completed piece of our plans for a beautifully renovated Parkway Central Library that will better serve Philadelphia’s 21st-century needs. This flourishing park is a lovely new ‘front yard’ for our Beaux-Arts gem, and creates a welcoming entrance to the Parkway Central.”

Shakespeare Park is named for the famed Bard, whose statue—designed by Stirling Calder—graces the Park entrance along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Fittingly, the Free Library’s Rare Book Department is home to William Shakespeare’s First Folio—and his second, third, and fourth folios—as well as a comprehensive collection of his plays and scholarly works about his life and literary career.

As part of the Phase One renovations to the historic Beaux-Arts building, the generous DCED grant also made possible the cleaning and repointing of Parkway Central’s stone façade. Additionally, the Library’s exterior stairways and the main vestibule—including light fixtures—have been cleaned and restored and windows throughout the building have been replaced.

With generous support from the Annenberg Foundation, work has also begun on the interior of the Beaux-Arts building. Parkway Central’s Philbrick Popular Library closed in May to undergo an extensive upgrade. Carpet is being removed and marble floors fully restored; new seating, shelving, and window treatments are being installed; the intricate plaster ceiling is being fully renewed; and energy efficient new lighting is being installed, inspired by the original fixtures on the second floor of Parkway Central. Philbrick Popular Library will remain closed through the end of December.

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The Free Library of Philadelphia system consists of 49 branches, three regional libraries, the Parkway Central Library, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. With more than 6 million visits annually, the Free Library is one of the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia.


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850