Land Buoy at Pier 53
Less than a year after the project’s groundbreaking, the Washington Avenue Pier (Pier 53) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania opened to the public on August 15th. In conjunction with the Delaware River Waterfront Commission and designer Jody Pinto, Goetz Composites fabricated the translucent FRP beacon that serves as the park’s focal point.
Paying homage to the 19th and 20th centuries’ large scale immigration via Pier 53 is a public boardwalk featuring an installation called the “Land Buoy.” It stands 55 feet tall and looks east over the Delaware River. Though only one third of a nautical mile wide at the Land Buoy’s location, the river – and Pier 53, specifically – served as the gateway to well over 600,000 immigrants from the time of its opening in the 1870s, until it was demolished in 1915.
In designing the Land Buoy, it seems Jody Pinto envisioned a final navigational marker after a long journey from Europe. The solar-powered blue light topping the installation provides a unique beacon on approach to Pier 53. The Philadelphia Inquirer commends Pinto for “simultaneously conjuring a ship’s crow’s nest, a lighthouse, and the spiral stairs of an immigrant rowhouse – approach, arrival, settlement, all rolled into one powerful form.” The newly restored wharf provides an appropriately simple setting for peaceful remembrance of the site’s eventful past.