The world in microcosm

Letter 44

“The pond represents the ocean, the hills represent the mountains and the trees become the forests of the world.”

In my last couple of days in Philly I spent my time exploring the extensive Fairmount Parkand. I was surprised at how many wonderful areas and buildings I found, as well as the statues that make up the Museum without walls. It’s a truly fantastic place that adds so much to the city of Philadelphia.

As I’m writing this I am sat in my home in Somerset. I arrived back in the UK 12 hours ago after spending 3 months in the states – but we’ll chat more about that in a few letters time. I still need to catch you up about my Philly and NYC adventures!

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This picture was taken in one of my favourite places we came across in the park – the Shofuso Japanese house and garden (link to the website here). It’s a beautiful traditionally designed Japanese house set in equally traditional and wonderfully landscaped gardens. We took time to explore both and I loved it. There were lovely plaques written about the different areas which I also enjoyed reading. As an architecture student I thought it was great.

Around the Japanese House sits the Horticultural Center (link to the website here) which contains hundreds of plants and trees, statues, ponds and seating areas. We walked around absorbing the beauty of its grounds and also had our afternoon nap in front of the reflecting pool.

Fairmount Park is also home to one of the best viewpoints of the city skyline. It’s called Belmont Plateau which is in front of Belmont Mansion. There are a few benches, perfect for a picnic, the only issue is the amount of trash that was thoughtlessly left around the area which did ruin it a little bit. This didn’t take away from the view though.

Travelling further south in the park were even more jewels to be found including the Please Touch Museum (link to the website here) which is housed in a stunning domed building, the Smith Memorial Arch and Cedar Grove (link to the website here) which is a small museum.

Everything I’ve written about so far is on the west side of Schuylkill River which divided Fairmount Park. We explored the west first because that is where our hostel was situated – I wrote a review of the hostel here. We spent a morning walking through the east side to reach the centre of the city which is about 5.5 miles away. This route is actually really special though because there are statues along the river which make up the Museum without walls (link to the website here). Some of the art is modern, some quite ancient but all are fascinating to learn about. You can download audios and information about each piece and I really enjoyed the walk which culminates at the famous LOVE sculpture outside City Hall.

And that rounds up Philadelphia for you! It was a really interesting city to explore and I loved my relaxing stay there. Unfortunately because of Labor Day weekend I didn’t have a chance to see many of the main landmarks and museums but I still found lots of do for my 4 days there.

The Big Apple is next ladies and gentlemen…

From Lou

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