Penn Valley Park Conservancy

Restoring, preserving and enhancing historic Penn Valley Park
as a vital urban green space and as a recreational and cultural resource
for the enjoyment of all through education, advocacy and public/private partnerships

About PVP
The 1893 Report of the Board of Park and Boulevard Commissioners proposed acquiring approximately 75 acres of Penn Street ravine for a park, almost within the heart of the city, with “a beauty thoroughly characteristic of our natural scenery. This park, on account of the great diversity of lands within it, would allow provisions for all things that are desirable in a park, and would be useful for all forms of play and recreation.” The board then changed its recommendation increasing the acquisition to a total of 131.92 acres and changing the original boundaries. Today Penn Valley Park is a 175.69-acre park.

“This rugged picturesque park . . . is a gem, a real diamond in the rough.” In George Kessler’s mind, Penn Valley seemed “intended by nature for park purposes.” “The principle and most attractive feature lay in the wide range of views obtained from summits.” The land taken for the park was occupied by some 300 houses, most of them very dilapidated. Cost of acquisition was $870,759.60. The houses were removed and “the land restored to its rugged picturesqueness, touched with landscape treatment and a system of drives that are surpassed in beauty by none.” By 1920 construction costs had reached $402,710.11 and $239,389.81 had been spent on maintenance. The 1920 park contained a Santa Fe Trail marker; Operating Plant; playground with field house and swimming pool; baseball diamond; lake; Spalding Memorial; and eight tennis courts, which were used by about 400 people per day.

Since 1920 the Scout and Pioneer Mother Memorial sculptures have been added. Besides the Liberty Memorial, The Hiker statue, 89th Division Memorial and Firefighters’ Memorial Fountain have been added. The tennis courts have been reduced to four and located next to the skateboard park. An Off-lease dog park had been located on the plateau where the 1940s military camp had been established. The park now has two baseball diamonds with picnic shelter and playground nearby. Just Off Broadway Theater is operating on the Operating Plant site.

The two most significant park structures have been lost—field house with pool and Operating Plant. Volunteer trees and bush honeysuckle are obstructing the rugged picturesqueness. Some of the roads have been replaced with walking trails or removed completely. The trail system is incomplete. The drainage system, drives and landscaping are aged and in much need of attention. The lake needs major restoration. Connectivity and accessibility are in need of improvement as well as security.