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CREDIT: B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia

CREDIT: Photo courtesy Barnes Foundation

CREDIT: Photo by Philadelphia Museum of Art

CREDIT: B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia

CREDIT: J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

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15 Must-See Attractions on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway

A one-mile cultural powerhouse of museums, attractions and public parks

Philadelphia's diagonal Benjamin Franklin Parkway stretches one mile from just beyond City Hall to the Philadelphia Museum of Art at the edge of Fairmount Park, acting as the home to museums, cultural institutions and other attractions. Planner Paul Philippe Cret and designer Jacques Gréber modeled the thoroughfare after the Champs-Élysées of their native country, creating a beautiful thoroughfare here in Philadelphia.

After a long planning and construction process, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway officially opened in October 1918. The arduous yet bold vision ushered in a new era of urban design in America: the City Beautiful Movement.

For the last century, the attractions, green spaces and public art of the Parkway Museums District have captivated residents and visitors alike. The buildings on the Parkway’s borders are a who’s-who of culture, and the stretch is street-party central, with massive events such as the annual Fourth of July concert, Budweiser Made In America Festival and Thanksgiving Day Parade. Even Pope Francis knew the Parkway was the best place to deliver Sunday mass during his 2015 visit.

Notable for 2017 and 2018, Philadelphia’s cultural powerhouse and preeminent boulevard celebrates its centennial birthday this fall, kicking off September 8, 2017 and running through November 16, 2018. Parkway 100 is the city’s 14-month soiree taking place both inside the venerable institutions that line the Parkway and outside among its fountains, gardens and public art. It will include an array of events, including two marquee installations: Winter Fountains for the Parkway, a world premiere nighttime installation made up of five beautiful winter fountains, and Guo-Qiang: Fireflies, an interactive artwork consisting of 27 luminous, kinetic sculptures in the form of free pedicabs.

Read on to learn more about the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and click here to see the full lineup of events taking place during Parkway 100.

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The Rocky Statue and Steps

Seventy-two steps lead art aficionados, exercise enthusiasts and millions of film buffs up to the East Entrance of the esteemed Philadelphia Museum of Art by way of what's been coined the Rocky Steps. Meanwhile, just down below, the Rocky Statue, originally commissioned for Rocky III, draws lines of visitors seeking photographs alongside the larger-than-life interpretation of the triumphant boxer from which it's named.
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Fairmount Water Works

This National Historic Landmark was constructed in the early 1800s and provided safe, clean drinking water to a growing city. Now, Fairmount Water Works is dedicated to fostering stewardship of shared water resources by encouraging informed decisions about the use of land and water. Guests discover the past, present and future of water through interactive exhibitions, hands-on programs and guided tours.
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Free Library of Philadelphia - Parkway Central and Rare Book Department

A gorgeous Beaux-Arts building serves as the heart of the Free Library of Philadelphia system, which includes more than 50 libraries throughout the area. The Parkway Central Library invites book lovers to check out its massive collection, plus explore its notable rare book department, sit in on author readings and lectures, enjoy special exhibitions and events and celebrate the glory that is free literature.
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