Named for eighteenth-century Pennsylvania governor John Dickinson, this three-acre park occupies an entire city block in South Philadelphia. In 1821, Pascal Iron Works was established on the site, growing to encompass two city blocks. (Tasker Street to the north of the parcel and Morris Street to the south were named for the founders of the iron works.) Seventy years later, the factory relocated to Delaware and its buildings were demolished. The western segment of the site was developed into a dense block of townhouses while the eastern section was transformed into a public park, which opened in 1900. Operated by the Cultural Extension League and outfitted with one of the first public playgrounds in Philadelphia, the park included a running track, play equipment, recreational fields, “sand gardens,” and two bathhouses—one for boys and one for girls. The fields were flooded in winter to create ice-skating rinks.
In 1959, the park was redesigned by landscape architect Horace Fleisher. Radiating from a centralized, circular paved area, several axial walks led to the park’s periphery where they connected with surrounding streets. Additional walks encircled the paved area in concentric rings while segments of lawn were punctuated with mature maple, oak, and elm. In the following decades, the condition of the park and its surrounding neighborhood declined. In 2007, the Friends of Dickinson Park commissioned Community Design Collaborative to create a master plan to address the aging infrastructure. Today, with many of the mature trees and grassy lawns retained, the park has again been redesigned with a new network of pathways, along with play equipment.