Blocks We Love: 400-500 Locust Street
t’s a safe bet that most Philadelphians are ready for spring after this historic winter. And as we rediscover the outdoors, one block tucked away in Society Hill will offer one of the most impressive floral displays in the city.
While the tourists may flock to Society Hill for its history and architecture, locals love this area for another less well-known reason: the neighborhood’s collection of pocket parks. In spring, these small green spaces help bring many of the neighborhood’s blocks back to life.
The Magnolia Garden, located on the 400 block of Locust Street, may be the best example of this small transformative space. The Garden, owned and managed by the National Park Service, was created in 1959 in honor of President Washington, who was known for his fondness for this flowering tree.
The space’s thirteen magnolias represent the thirteen original colonies of the United States. Each spring this bakers’ dozen of mature trees flower at once, spilling their pink and white petals out onto the street. The effect is nothing short of magical.
And yet while few displays exist like this in Philadelphia’s urban core, this parklet is a bit of a secret. Locust Street essentially falls off the grid east of Washington Square, with just this section between 4th and 5th tucked between apartment complexes and high-rise office towers. Road and foot traffic here then are minimal, making the 400 block a surprisingly serene and uncrowded place to experience the bright colors of spring.
Although the street has just a few homes, the 400 block of Locust Street’s extravagant display is certainly one of the many great perks that life in Society Hill offers all year round.