Residents in Bridesburg and the surrounding River Wards community can view the neighborhood in a new light thanks to a unique, ongoing photo exhibit.
Riverfront North Partnership is currently displaying a series of large-scale photographs in windows of businesses of the site of the future Bridesburg waterfront park.
The nonprofit charged with creating the Greenway, a connection of trails and parks along the Delaware River throughout Northeast Philly, worked with two local artists to curate the exhibit, which will be visible until July 30 at Dydak Realty, Old English Pizza, Renzi’s Pizza and Artur Realty.
The businesses are located along Orthodox Street, which is considered the gateway to the forthcoming public space, which is set to be accessible to the public by 2023.
“We’ve learned so much about how the deep history and resilience of industry has helped to shape Bridesburg,” said Stephanie Phillips, executive director at Riverfront North. “As that area will soon transform into greenspace, I’m glad that we were able to document its current conditions, which tell an important part of the story.”
Aislinn Pentecost-Farren is completing a two-year artist residency with Riverfront North and is engaging with residents to help Riverfront North discover the community’s unique connection to the riverfront.
Previously, she worked on the This Pizza is a Park project, a collaboration between Riverfront North and Old English featuring a limited edition, interactive pizza box highlighting the future park.
For this project, Pentecost-Farren commissioned Philly-based artist Jaime Alvarez to take a series of photographs of the future site.
“He uses photography and installation to help guide the viewer through his ideas of vulnerability and everyday life,” she said.
Alvarez also came up with the name for the project, paying homage to the history of 19137.
|“While I was doing my research about Bridesburg, I came across the name Point-No-Point, which refers to the area back in the Colonial period,” he said. “My understanding is that where the Frankford Creek originally met the Delaware River, and if one was on the river coming across it, it would be deceiving, because you may first see a piece of land like a point cutting into the river but as you got closer, it was just part of the coast.”
“It was also mentioned in a letter that John Adams wrote to his wife in 1777 describing the landscape, traveling through Kensington, on the road to ‘Point-no-Point,’ ” Alvarez added. “I also saw that there was a road named Point-No-Point on maps that lead to the area that today is Bridesburg.”
Alvarez photographed the site and the neighborhood this spring.
The exhibit can serve as a new point of view into a site that has been overlooked for decades as dilapidated, according to Alvarez.
“As a phrase, though, I really love it, too, because it can define that thing that may be mundane, or banal, but also when you look at it closely, there could be some beauty in its inherentness,” he said. “Walking into old cement factory, it took me a while to find its own beauty, and part of it was that nature really uses what is available to overcome this man-made space, and grow anew.”
“The park site, unused for so many years, is now home to an interesting combination of industrial relics and nature that has grown to fill the gaps in unexpected ways. The photography project will capture the site now before it is to be transformed.”
And, while Alvarez was given free reign to capture the character of the site, the physical display of the photographs is intentional.
“We sized each photo specifically for each business, so that the photos fill the windows and make it look a little like the forest and river is inside the building. This is a nod to the way the park site and other former industrial sites in Bridesburg have a long legacy that is still present in people’s lives,” she said.
Riverfront North and the artists hope to instill a sense of excitement in those who view the exhibit.
“The goal of the project is to record this chapter in the waterfront’s history, and share it with the neighborhood as part of celebrating the upcoming park,” Pentecost-Farren said. ••
For more details or to view the photos online, visit RiverfontNorth.org/PointNoPoint.