There are going to be many exceptional reasons to visit the Benjamin Franklin Parkway over the next year, as Parkway 100, the centennial celebration of Philadelphia's boulevard, gets underway. Things kick off on Friday.
It will all start at 4 p.m. Friday with the "Parkway 100 We are Connected Festival" and the unveiling of a mural at Park Towne Place.
The Parkway's cultural institutions will offer extended hours, free or pay-what-you-wish admissions, and more than 100 family-friendly activities. Indoor and outdoor entertainment, a Dino Dance Party at the Academy of Natural Sciences, a Ceremonial Centennial Science Demonstration at the Franklin Institute, and "100 Years in Philly Music" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art will mark the occasion.
Numerous musical performances will take place at spots up and down the Parkway. Friends Select School will unveil a photograph and archival exhibition, "Parkway as Civic Space."
At 5 p.m. that day, the Free Library of Philadelphia will open a special centennial exhibit, "Corridor of Culture: 100 Years of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway." The exhibition will run until Nov. 16, 2018.
The Association for Public Art is shepherding two projects for the centennial.
First, from Sept. 15 through Oct. 8, a fleet of 27 pedicabs outfitted with fanciful lanterns will transport riders up and down the parkway in Cai Guo-Qiang's participatory performance-celebration "Fireflies." Rides will be free, by reservation, Thursdays through Sunday from 6 to 10 p.m. each evening
Then, from December through March, the Parkway will feature Jennifer Steinkamp's Winter Fountains for the Parkway, five large fountains installed by the artist along the Parkway. When night falls, the fountains will illuminate with animated video projections that relate to the collections at the Parkway museums and educational institutions.
In addition to the Free Library and Friends Select, other Parkway institutions will present centennial-related exhibitions throughout the year.
There will also be concerts at the Cathedral Basilica of SS Peter and Paul throughout this year and next, and many, many other events, exhibits, talks, and performances. For the conclusion, more than a year from now, the museums, institutions, and attractions on the Parkway will open their doors on Friday night, Nov. 16, 2018, for the "Parkway 100 Finale," offering installations, performances and concerts, premieres, tours, talks, and educational programs.