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Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park facts for kids

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Type Urban park
Location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Area 348 acres (141 ha)
Created 1914
Operated by Philadelphia Parks & Recreation
Visitors 120,000
Open All year
Philadelphia Register of Historic Places
Designated: August 9, 2000

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) Park (originally named League Island Park and locally known as "The Lakes") is an aesthetically designed park located along the Delaware River in the southernmost point of South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, comprising some 348 acres (1.41 km2) which includes a 146-acre (0.59 km2) golf course (closed and converted to meadows in 2019), about 125 acres (0.51 km2) of buildings, roadways, pathways for walking, landscaped architecture, and a variety of picnic and recreation areas placed within about 77 acres (310,000 m2) of natural lands including ponds and lagoons.

FDR Park 1
Meadow Lake with baseball fields behind it. Interstate 95 borders the park, with the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard behind it. Above an airplane begins its landing at Philadelphia International Airport.


Bordered by the South Philadelphia Sports Complex on South Broad Street, Interstate highway-95/Philadelphia Naval Yard and Pattison Avenue/ Packer Park residential neighborhood. Many Philadelphians enjoy it as a green "Oasis" for a variety of recreational activities, while sport and entertainment event patrons attending games and events at the nearby stadium complex know it as an alternative place for offsite parking.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park Plaque (1984) - Philadelphia PA
F.D.R. Park - Public recreation area provided by Fairmount Park Commission - 1984 - Funding Assistance from Land and Water Conservation Fund, U.S. Department of the Interior, Administered through Bureau of Recreation and Conservation, Department of Community Affairs

The park was built to the design of Olmsted Brothers, the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted and John Charles Olmsted in the early 20th century. The parkland was reclaimed mostly from marshlands of Greenwich Island, one of several islands in the area created by river channels present in the 18th and 19th centuries. The use of the park for the Sesquicentennial Exposition in 1926 and subsequent improvements have moderately changed the original design, keeping the main character of the park west of Broad Street. The original plan of the Olmsted Brothers still remains highly visible and significant west of Broad Street. The official name was changed from League Island Park to Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park in the late 1940s and a golf course was constructed. The park's boathouse (1916), gazebo (1914) and American Swedish Historical Museum (1926) are reminders of the 1926 Exposition. In 2000, the park was added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.


FDR Park is located on the Atlantic Coastal Plain, a hydrographic province which includes extreme southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. The Coastal Plain supports different plants and animals than the adjacent Piedmont of Pennsylvania. Because of the extreme development of the Coastal Plain in Pennsylvania, many of these distinctive plants and animals are rare in the state.

The ponds and lagoons are remnants of the tidal marsh and channel system which originally occupied the area between the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers. Diking, draining and filling of these marshes probably started with the first settlement of the area by the Swedes in the early 17th century, culminating in the installation of a tide gate designed to permit drainage from the park while minimizing inflow from the Delaware River.

Lake Erie Canada Geese
Canada goose migration

The Pennsylvania Audubon Society has designated the park as an Important Bird Area (IBA). Birds that have natural habitat to watch for in the park are shovelers, gadwall, wigeon, ring-necks, bufflehead, redhead, scaup, ruddys, pintail, pied-billed grebes, snow geese, Canada goose, and herons.

Important Bird Area (IBA)

Audubon Society of Pennsylvania has said that FDR Park is one of the best places in Philadelphia to observe birds. This is because it contains a variety of different habitats, including wetlands and waterways. In terms of the category of birds, the park is best known as a place to observe waterfowl. Many different species occur during migration.

In addition to mallards and Canada geese the park attracts large numbers of northern shovelers, gadwall, as well as American and Eurasian wigeon, redhead, lesser and greater scaup, bufflehead, ruddy ducks, northern pintail, green-winged teal, hooded mergansers, ring-necked ducks, American black ducks, and other rarer duck species. And there are also pied-billed grebe, double-crested cormorants, American coots and other kinds of non-duck waterfowl. Many other birds may also be seen from warblers to raptors.

Points of interest

American Swedish Museum
American Swedish Historical Museum

Bellaire Manor (Samuel Preston House)
Bellaire Manor (Samuel Preston House)
  • American Swedish Historical Museum
  • Boat House at Meadow Lake
  • Gazebo overlooking Meadow Lake (favorite photo spot for brides and grooms)
  • Bellaire Manor built 1750 by Samuel Preston Provincial Treasurer and trustee of William Penn's estate
  • Six single-span bridges, built in 1914, with random-coursed schist walls, soldiercourse segmental arches, and soldiercourse coping.


  • Golf course (Closed Oct 31, 2019)
  • Tennis courts
  • Soccer field
  • Richie Ashburn baseball field
  • Skateboard park under I-95
  • Children's playgrounds with a child scaled baseball field
  • Lakeside fishing
  • Bird watching
  • Model boat regatta racing at Meadow Lake Boat House


  • Music Festival: August 1, 1994 the Lollapalooza music festival was held in Philadelphia.
  • Baseball: Carpenter's Cup Classic annual playoffs between local High School teams with the final game at Citizens Bank Park.
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