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Calling all Lunchers, Loungers and Food Truck Lovers: Science Center opens new pocket park

Innovation Plaza

A rendering of Innovation Plaza

At long last, the University City Science Center is opening its Innovation Plaza, a landscaped pocket park that offers a spot to relax, socialize and consider Philadelphia's rich history of innovation.

A key feature of the new park -- situated on a pedestrian-only stretch of 37th Street between Market and Chestnut Streets -- is the Innovators Walk of Fame, an evolving installation that honors individual visionaries. 

"With a name like 'Innovators Walk of Fame,' we thought it was imperative to come up with something more innovative than names etched on the sidewalk," Science Center spokesperson Jeanne Mell explained earlier this year. "Instead [we’ve gone] with an arrangement of cubes with metal panels etched with the honorees’ names."

The Plaza also features café tables and chairs, game tables and can accommodate food trucks, creating a flexible space for local office workers and residents alike.

"Fostering a live/work/play environment in the heart of University City is a key goal for the Science Center," says Science Center President Stephen S. Tang. "[Especially] as we expand our footprint and rebrand our physical campus as uCity Square."

The Science Center inducted its second group of Walk of Fame honorees, a group of storied women, in October. They are Rebecca J. Cole, the second African American woman to receive a medical degree in the United States (from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in  in 1867); Stephanie Kwolek, who invented the technology behind Kevlar, a virtually bulletproof fiber that has saved the lives of countless first responders and military personnel; Judith Rodin, former University of Pennsylvania president, who is credited with spearheading programs that transformed the campus and its surroundings; Judy Wicks, whose renowned West Philadelphia restaurant the White Dog Café became a national leader in promoting local food, community engagement, environmental stewardship and responsible business practices; and Kathleen McNulty Mauchley Antonelli, Jean Jennings Bartik, Frances Elizabeth Holberton, Marilyn Wescoff Meltzer, Frances Bilas Spence and Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum -- these "Women of ENIAC" were responsible for the first all-electronic, programmable, general-purpose computer, which debuted in 1947 at the University of Pennsylvania. 

The Plaza was designed by ex;it and landscape designer Andropogon, both of Philadelphia.

WRITER IN RESIDENCE is a partnership between the University City Science Center and Flying Kite Media that embeds a reporter on-site at 3711 Market Street. The resulting coverage will provide an inside look at the most intriguing companies, discoveries and technological innovations coming out of this essential Philadelphia institution.

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