A new park is coming to the Delaware River waterfront in the same location as the nation's first Navy Yard and Philadelphia's former immigration hub.
Pier 53 at Washington Avenue and Columbus Boulevard is set to be transformed into Washington Avenue Green -- a one-acre green space that will extend over the river.
Mayor Michael Nutter broke ground on the project on Thursday afternoon.
Washington Avenue Green will feature an elevated boardwalk, beach-area where people will able to reach the river's edge and have native marshland plants that are already growing on the now-dilapidated site. The pier will also be more lush than its sister pier-park to the north, Race Street Pier.
At the end of the park, a large art installation will be constructed to mark the pier's past as Philadelphia's immigration hub.
Pier 53 was home to the Washington Avenue Immigration Station from 1873 through 1915. Nearly 1 million immigrants were received through the station, according to the Southwark Historical Society.
Before becoming the immigration center, the pier was part of The Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, t he nation's first. The yard was opened in 1776 and remained there until the Civil War, when it was moved to S. Broad Street.
The new pier park is expected to be ready by late summer 2014.