The newest addition to Center City’s visual offerings comes from under the ground. “Pulse,” a long-promised public art installation of lights tracking city transit as it passes under Dilworth Park, activated its first component on Wednesday night.
A four-foot-tall cloud of green mist lit up for the first time as a SEPTA trolley rolled past underneath Dilworth Park, as a new piece of public art was activated on Wednesday night. It’s the first of three colored lines of light, including blue for the Market-Frankford Line and orange for the Broad Street Line, which will ultimately create what Echelman has called “a living X-ray of the city’s circulatory system.”
“As SEPTA trains pass under Dilworth Park, four-foot-tall curtains of colorful atomized mist travel across the park fountain’s surface following the transit lines that carry passengers directly below,” the Center City District described.
The green line was activated thanks to a grant from the William Penn Foundation for $325,000 to the Center City District.
The ‘Pulse’ project was originally set to open in 2014 when the vastly revamped Dilworth Park was unveiled.
The $55 million rebirth of Dilworth Park has been a smash hit with the public, attracting some 10 million visitors in 2017 alone. The park’s 11,060-foot fountain, a perennially popular destination in the middle of Dilworth for children, had infrastructure for Pulse embedded in it during the original renovation.
But funding to activate Pulse took longer to find, despite a $20,000 gift from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2017.
But in a previous interview with Metro, Echelman noted that complicated projects like this one can take years to complete – and the staggered approach may provide useful lessons to builders.
“It’s not uncommon for projects of this scale and complexity … Since no one has built an artwork like Pulse in a public park, doing it one step at a time can actually help contractors gain practical experience and potentially lower installation costs for later phases,” Echelman previously told Metro. “Initiating Phase One will take this project from rendering and digital animations to a living, breathing artwork. A moving column of green mist will engage adults and the many children who play each day in the fountain.”
Center City District is actively seeking funding to activate the Broad Street and Market-Frankford line components.