Fitler Square

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Philadelphia, PA
United States
Fitler Square

This half-acre square situated southwest of Rittenhouse Square was named for Philadelphia mayor Edwin H. Fitler and dedicated in 1896. It  anchors the neighborhood, which was a shipping, shipbuilding and brick-making center through the nineteenth century. Created from a former brickyard, the square originally contained paths that bisected  stands of sycamores and elms. In 1953, after a long period of decline, a residents’ association hired local architect Norman Rice to rehabilitate the park. Rice reduced the number of entrances from six to three in order to enlarge the green space, and replaced a decrepit wooden shelter with a pentagonal brick one. Long benches were affixed to brick-paved seating areas and the groundplane planted with English ivy and purple winter-creeper as well as shrubs and trees, including Japanese holly and firethorn.

Within a few years, Rice’s landscape was marred by vandals. The Fitler Square Improvement Association, formed in 1962 by local residents, placed an ornate, Victorian cast-iron fountain  at its center in 1976, and undertook a renewal of the park in 1981. Brick walkways and lighting were installed, and a decorative wrought-iron fence placed around its perimeter. Animal sculptures were added to the park, beginning with Gerd Hesness’ Fitler Square Ram, and including Eric Berg’s Grizzly and Family of Turtles. Fitler Square was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of a local historic district in 1995.