The History of Fairmount Park

Looking to get out of Philadelphia extended-stay housing? Head to historic Fairmount Park – a park that stretches across several neighborhoods and offers unmatched beauty.


Flowers at Park

Philadelphia is known for its history — and its largest park system is no different.   

Fairmount Park comprises more than 2,500 acres of the City of Brotherly Love. The park stretches across several neighborhoods and even a river, providing ample areas for residents and visitors alike to exercise, explore and engage with the city’s public spaces.

In Philadelphia, extended-stay housing is a great option if you want to really experience all that the city has to offer, from the Betsy Ross House to Independence Hall. While your serviced apartment can put you right in the middle of one of the nation’s most historic areas, you can also travel back in time (and get a good workout!) with a visit to nearby Fairmount Park.    

The park dates to the early 1800s and traces its roots to a dark period in Philadelphia history — the yellow fever epidemic. Contaminated water was found to have spread the disease, so locals increasingly sought to invest in water-purifying systems, which led to the opening of the Fairmount Water Works in 1815. Over the next few years, backers of the project installed a large public garden on the facility’s southern end, which became one of the nation’s earliest public gardens.    

In 1844, the City of Philadelphia purchased a massive estate known as Lemon Hill — which once belonged to Declaration of Independence signer Robert Morris — and its grounds were joined with the Water Works’ garden to become Fairmount Park.    

The area rapidly grew in size over the next few decades. In 1867, the state legislature voted to expand the park’s boundaries and the next year established the Fairmount Park Commission to oversee the blossoming park. The park saw a big first in 1874, with the opening of the Philadelphia Zoo, the nation’s first zoo, within its grounds.   

Its renown was also given a significant boost when the park was chosen to host the 1876 Centennial International Exhibition, the first World’s Fair to take place in the United States.   

The fair was a massive undertaking for Philadelphia, which had to commission a new bank to handle the event’s finances, create temporary housing surrounding the park and construct 200 structures on the park’s grounds. International leaders in agriculture, machinery, education, science and other areas were invited to exhibit their ideas and innovations. Among the new technologies and products unveiled at the fair were the Corliss Steam Engine, Heinz Ketchup, the Remington typewriter and Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone. The exhibition ultimately drew more than 10-million people, hailing from 37 countries, for what was deemed a huge success for the city and Fairmount Park.    

Over time, more than a dozen historic homes in the area, and their grounds, were officially incorporated into the park, with many of them now open for tours. Apart from the dose of history, Fairmount Park features plentiful walking and jogging paths, breathtaking views of the Schuylkill River, sports fields, playgrounds and more.     

Philadelphia extended-stay housing visitors should take advantage of their time in the city to explore all that Fairmount Park has to offer.