On  a trip to Paris celebrating Le Divorce of a friend, four of us girls strolled along the Seine one evening at twilight. As if by magic, just as we approached a bridge or monument it lit up, as though the City of Lights were illuminating in a private show just for us.

I never imagined that sense of wonder and delight could be replicated in Philadelphia. But it was, during a late afternoon stroll last summer along Schuylkill Banks, where one panorama after another unfolded before us.  Our journey began in the heart of the city, beside once litter-strewn old train tracks, and as we wandered the path rose, bridges soared overhead, stone cliffs grazed our arms.  We paused at the restored Waterworks, now a restaurant, and took in the sublime views of the Art Museum and city on one side--and on the other, the path to Boathouse Row, with lush green trees dipping into the water.

Along the way we passed jogger and bikers on the path; and kayakers and rowers on the water. Young couples spread out blankets for romantic picnics; groups of friends met for movie night on the sloping banks; a cocktail cruise boat even passed us by, just as in Paris.

And as we left the park, in the gathering dusk, the bridges spanning the water began to light up.

The Schuylkill River Development Corporation is a public/private partnership that led the transformation of a section of tangled and trash-strewn river banks into a vibrant urban oasis.  For more info on the Banks, including a new pedestrian bridge and boardwalk, plus a schedule of events, visit SchuylkillBanks.org.  Eventually, as part of the Schuylkill River Trail, the path we wandered should continue along 67 waterfront miles connecting three urban and suburban counties. 

"Market Street Bridge At Night"  courtesy Christopher Woods (chrisinphilly5448 on Flickr).  All other photos by Doreen Creede.

"Use the good china for breakfast."