The Girard Avenue bridge was imagined and resources were allocated in the public sphere to execute the vision of an elegant iron structure to bring visitors to the Philadelphia Zoo and to connect North and West Philadelphia. Cast iron swans were poured and integrated into the ornate railings. The bridge was built to accommodate trolleys and was grand and important. The city had made efforts to maintain it at a bare minimum. There was a decking upgrade project completed almost a quarter century ago, and SEPTA has maintained the trolley tracks, which will be soon graced with running revenue service newly refurbished vintage PCC trolleys, an exceptional feat!

The Bridge is still a ghost of its former self, rusting railings and decrepit masonry walls, bleak and barren. It is used heavily and is a lifeline between the the two Philadelphias. Pedestrian, auto and public transport all share the vast decking at a constant rate day and night.

The bridge needs to be restored and reimagined to meet the expectations and standards of a modern city that honors its past. The original vision needs restoration but the modern improvements such as walkable pedestrian lanes, dedicated bike lanes, dedicated and isolated trolley tracks and reasonable accommodations for cars as well (one lane each way instead of the current two lanes each way).

There must be an alternative solution to the hideous chain link fence around the whole thing! We can do better and we need to position ourselves as citizens to build a better bridge rather than tacitly accepting a questionable bare minimum.
Where is the Infrastructure money?? Where is it going?? When does it come our way??
This bridge could be a potential rallying issue to demand better of our city, society and local communities. Maybe not right this instant, just wait until it is closed down because it rusted away just like the Martin Luther King Drive bridge did and is now completely shut down until who knows when.


This is THE Mayapple post of 2023! They have been appearing in previous posts and will most likely make an appearance In future posts this year, but this is the banner post for Mayapples. By the time these Spring Ephemerals are blooming, the season of the Spring Ephemerals is just about over. It’s the grande finale of them.

Podophyllum peltatum

Our West Philadelphia rowhouse backyard in the Spring

Our tiny West Philadelphia rowhouse backyard garden is about 13 feet wide and 6 feet deep. The other areas of our backyard are concrete drainage areas, steps, and concrete walkways. Much of the concrete infrastructure is to protect the foundation from water infiltration and flooding and subsequent structural damage, very common in poorly maintained urban rowhouses.
We wanted our tiny backyard plot to be a miniature West Fairmount Park foremost and also a miniature version of a Southeastern Pennsylvania woodland. We consulted the book The Vascular Flora of Pennsylvania: Annotated Checklist and Atlas by Rhodes and Klein, to guide us through our plant decisions.

Because of the height of the house and the surrounding buildings, and the small size of the garden plot, we chose Cornus florida, the understory tree Dogwood, also because of the morning sunshine and afternoon shade, which this species prefers. The very well protected garden with masonry walls all around mimic the Lower Susquehanna ravines we love to visit, and even some well protected Schuylkill River Ravines, featuring Trilliums, which thrive in these deep ravines with steep slopes. Our Trillium Grandiflorum and Trillium erectum are thriving in our back yard!

In keeping with creating a miniature West Fairmount Park Spring Woodland, we have Mayapples, Podophyllum peltatum, Christmas Fern, and Solomons Seal.

Another plant that loves very protected environments with some degree of alkaline soils is Maidenhair Fern, which also thrives in our yard! My theory is that all of the brickwork around our yard has contributed to the soil alkalinity, being that the mortar used in making brick walls is composed of the alkaline lime. Check out the pictures below and see all of the plants growing in our yard that we are discussing. I took all of these pictures in the past week! Look forward to our Summer and Fall Philadelphia rowhouse backyard series!