Watersheds and Waterways of Roxborough and Manayunk

Weekend Tour

With extensive development upriver impacting the quality of its waterways, the communities of Roxborough and Manayunk (the Native American word meaning “where we go to drink”) have recently collaborated with the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) to try and reduce water impacts through thoughtful and innovative park and greenspace projects. Roxborough sits on top of two watersheds and Manayunk is on the edge of the Schuylkill River. This tour takes you through half a dozen major park and watershed sites and passes by a series of assorted smaller watershed interventions. These neighborhoods are visually dramatic with cliffs, waterways, beautifully landscaped parks accented with murals and other artwork.

We will visit the Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center, a state-of-the-art theater on top of a massive tank designed to capture sewage overflow in a high-water event. Then we’ll view one of Philly’s most stunning hidden works of art, the Fountain Street Steps (aka “Water Under The Bridge), a gorgeous set of steps that are now art, with watershed features incorporated within, originally designed for the millworkers to have access down the hill to the mills. The tour finishes at the Upper Roxborough Reservoir and Swale, a 35-acre abandoned and repurposed swale and reservoir, completely replanted to function as a wildlife area that captures water from Upper Roxborough. The tour will include lunch and walking along a section of trail linking many of these large and small park areas together.

Tour Leaders

Kay Sykora

Board Member, Roxborough Manayunk Conservancy

Joanne Dahme

Former Deputy Commissioner, Communications and Engagement, Philadelphia Water Department