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Franklin Square Philly!  Patco Station Update and Winter Event Last Two Weekends

Franklin Square Philly!  Patco Station Update and Winter Event Last Two Weekends
Reading Time: 7 minutes

PATCO’s upcoming Franklin Square Station is truly showing its final form this winter as it’s all glass outer shell is mostly in place, as they move towards an expected opening later this summer/fall.

Additionally the larger Franklin Square Park (that the station is a part of) features a merry go round, mini-golf and more, has been celebrating an exciting Winter in Franklin Square event… which has two more weekends remaining (through February 25th).

Patco’s new Franklin Square Head House Building – February 2024

Back in October I introduced readers to the Franklin Square Station project which… which will be part of the PATCO high speed line that connects New Jersey and Philadelphia via tracks on the Ben Franklin bridge.

In my visit just 3-4 months ago, the “head house” (above ground portion) was just a small concrete stub housing for an ADA compliant elevator.

Today, the progress is dramatic as basically the entire core exterior implementation is in place, giving folks driving by or visiting the Franklin Square Park a clear indication of what this station will be all about!

Ben On The Rock’s Winter Event – Franklin Square Philadelphia

Keep scrolling and reading to learn more about the Franklin Square’s Patco Station update, and the exciting Winter in Franklin Square event… they even have hot chocolate… “spiked” hot chocolate!

And a big thank you to staff at Patco and the Delaware River Port Authority who soon after my last article invited me over for a tour down inside to the lower station!   It was exciting to get an opportunity to walk on the subway concourse that basically hasn’t seen commuters in 50 years!  And it was a great opportunity to meet many key Patco and Delaware River Port Authority team members.

Patco’s new Franklin Square Head House Building – January 2024

Patco Franklin Square Station Update

So as a quick refresher, if you’ve ridden the Patco high speed line between New Jersey and Philadelphia, you have likely noticed on the Philadelphia side (close to the foot of the Ben Franklin Bridge) that the train slows down a bit, and through the window you could see a darkened unused “ghost” station that was frozen in time.

That station is Franklin Square, which sits directly below the park above!

It was last used for the 1976 Bicentennial!

Less than 4 months, amazing progress! Patco’s new Franklin Square Head House Building

With the growth in the area surrounding Franklin Square, including residential, commercial and historical features… Patco determined that today there is a strong foundation for a very successful relaunch of the Franklin Square station.

Factor in that in 2026 we will be celebrating the 250th anniversary of the USA, the 100th anniversary of the Ben Franklin bridge, and also Philadelphia will be hosting several World Cup matches!

The design team of the project have done an exciting thing by blending the classic subway architecture underground, with a completely new and modern above ground headhouse!

As mentioned in the intro, when I visited just 3-4 months ago there was really not much visible above ground.

Patco’s new Franklin Square Head House Building – Feb 2024

Today the building steel skeleton has fully been erected and in my visit last week I could see the glass panels where almost all fully in place.

The glass panes by the way were designed with bird safety in mind, as they have small dots throughout the glass panes…  which balances a clear view for humans looking in and out, but offers enough of a visual warning for birds not to fly into the glass.

The above ground head house section will support ticketing as well as space for people to meet up with friends and family.  As mentioned there will be up and down escalators going to the lower level, as well as an elevator.

Inside Patco’s new Franklin Square Head House Building – Image: Patco

I felt very fortunate at the end of last year to get a chance to walk through the actual lower level substation! The underground station originally opened in 1936, and it’s my understanding that all of those green and white subway tiles are original from that era!

Recognizing that this is just something that cannot be recreated today, Patco and their design team have taken considerable care to make sure the tiles remain, and are maintained. 

During my tour I was shown areas where the crews had been able to restore and replace more visible tiles from other areas, that are outside of the view of the public.

Concourse Level of Patco’s new Franklin Square Head House Building (Image: Patco)

In fact during my tour one of the leaders noted that a recently placed metal conduit pipe was placed a little too close to some of the station’s classic lettering…  and gave direction that they should find a way to relocate the conduit so that it didn’t detract from the almost 90 year old decor!

As you would expect directly underneath the head house there are new support foundation structures underground. In that area a new small office is being created for security and employees, as well as storage.

The placement of the head house above is in a corner but placed at an angle… partially because it looks very nice sitting in the park corner positioned like that. 

Additionally though, the underground Patco tracks in this area run on a matching angle, from the Ben Franklin bridge, then on an angle across the streets (underground) on their way to 8th and Market.

Patco’s new Franklin Square Head House Building – Feb 2024

So when you come down the stairs or escalator from the head house to the underground station, you can go left or right (45 degrees) to access the two directions of the train tracks. From there the underground station and tracks head in the direction of the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Maybe surprising to some, but the underground station area is directly under the park, and in fact from my point of view when you’re sitting in the Ben On The Rocks event tent (set up through February 25th), the tracks of the train are running underneath you there!

For commuters all of their access in and out of the station underground will be from the glass head house building, but my tour underground showed how there is another exit and entrance at the far end of each station side… which is for emergency and maintenance use only.  Even those entrances are being redeveloped!

Winter In Franklin Square – Through Sunday February 25th.

The Patco station in Franklin Square is just a small corner portion of of what is a much larger public space!  Franklin Square is one of the original 5 squares which were designed into William Penn’s Philadelphia city design almost 350 years ago!

Each of the Philadelphia park/squares have distinctive public aspects, but the Franklin Square park really takes things up several levels!

Winter in Franklin Square (Snowy January visit!)

An amazing fountain is in the center of the square which has been fully upgraded to support fun and synchronized water fountain movement and light shows.

A permanently installed Merry-Go-Round is on site, as well as a Philadelphia themed mini golf!

The mini golf features distinctive Philadelphia treasures such as Independence Hall, the Franklin Art Museum and Elfreth’s Alley… the oldest street in America!

Food is also available at the Square Burger restaurant stand.. located in one of the original Franklin Square buildings.

Winter in Franklin Square (Snowy January visit!)

Franklin Square is operated and maintained by Historic Philadelphia incorporated, who also maintain the Betsy Ross House and Once Upon a Nation.

As part of their marketing efforts, for the last few months they have been hosting “Winter in Franklin Square” which adds a Winter and Holiday theme to all of the existing exciting aspects of the square, while adding really cool and fun things… that you have to try before the event ends on February 25th!

While Franklin Square is open all day long, the special Winter events are set for 5:00 to 9:00 PM nightly.

Ben On The Rocks! Warm and cozy, offering fun things to do and delicious beverages!

Every night the Electrical Spectacle Light show (sponsored by Peco) lights up the trees, skies and buildings in the square with hundreds of thousands of shimmering lights to illuminate the park. 

This the theme is Ben Franklin’s electric discovery and features a giant kite and key… an offers light shows running every 30 minutes nightly

Chilly Philly Mini Golf blends in all the seasons, with winter themed items as well as Valentine’s Day…  Play mini golf and get your photo with a giant Valentine’s Day heart positioned next to the Liberty Bell golf hole!

Yes, you can ride the Merry-Go-Round! Winter in Franklin Square (Snowy January visit!)

“Ben On The Rocks” event tent features a warm cozy place to hang out inside, order a refreshing beverage including spiked hot chocolate and more!

You can even make your own smores while inside!

Out front are several very comfortable conversation pits where the benches are in a circle, surrounding a outdoor fire pit for each seating area.

Ben on the Rocks offers tasty beverages, including these Spiked Hot Chocolates!
Winter in Franklin Square Philadelphia

And something I would have never thought of… Franklin Square is featuring Street Curling… two friendly competition curling rinks made from synthetic ice!

The light show and visual aspects are free, but other aspects such as the merry-go-round, mini golf, curling and food/beverages have a cost to participate. Check the website for more details!

Street Curling? yes, at Winter in Franklin Square (Snowy January visit!)

Franklin Square Train Station Rebuild
7th and Race Streets – Franklin Square Park
Philadelphia, PA

Franklin Square Park – Historic Philadelphia Inc
Plan your parking before heading over!