March 07, 2023
Philadelphia is preparing for an influx of tourists this spring with the installation of a visitor center and retail shop, which will be located at the base of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
The Parkway Outpost, the structure of which was installed Tuesday between the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Rocky statue, will serve as a welcome area for the roughly 2 million tourists that visit the landmarks each year. Once it is outfitted with decorations, the outpost will host a soft opening on March 24 before opening permanently later this spring.
The tourist hub is spearheaded by the Philadelphia Visitor Center Corporation, an organization that operates the city's other three visitor centers and promotes tourism to the city's landmarks. The organization runs the Independence Visitor Center in Old City, the LOVE Park Visitor Center and the City Hall Visitor Center, which remains closed due to COVID-19 complications.
Once opened, the new outpost will provide visitor information and services, sell tickets to major attractions around the city and serve as a hub for the Philly Phlash Downtown Loop transit service, a bus system that runs from April to December and brings tourists to attractions throughout the city.
The visitor center will connect tourists to museums and cultural institutions along the Parkway and Kelly Drive, including Boathouse Row. Travelers making their way through the city can also stop to purchase Philly-themed merchandise from a selection of small businesses in the city.
"The Parkway Outpost allows us to reach tourists where they are already visiting organically — the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Rocky Statue," said Jennifer Nagle, interim president and CEO of the Philadelphia Visitor Center Corporation. "Connecting these popular destinations with other attractions on the Parkway and throughout the city will allow us to help visitors make the most of their time in Philadelphia and take advantage of everything that we have to offer."
The 600-square-foot structure, which costs $500,000 and is made from recycled cargo containers, was designed by FKB Studios, a Philly-based design firm. About 10 vendors, many of them Black- and brown-owned small businesses, will sell their Philly-focused products at the outpost, with more to be added throughout the year, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.
The Philadelphia Visitor Center Corporation hopes that, by adding a fourth visitor center, Philadelphia can bring visitors back to the city and recoup its pandemic losses.
It's one of several ways that the city is hoping to revitalize its tourism industry and ramp up excitement for visitors ahead of 2026, when the city celebrates the 250th anniversary of America's founding, hosts matches for the FIFA World Cup and hosts the MLB All-Star Game.