East Park Hill Walk - Atlas Obscura
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

East Park Hill Walk

Explore the landscape, genesis and distinctive, hidden features of East Fairmount Park, including the unknown topography of Lemon and Brewery Hills.

East Fairmount Park sits in the juncture of two physiographic provinces—the broad flat coastal plain and the piedmont. In this unique transitional space, we'll explore the natural and cultural histories of these two elevations—Lemon and Brewery Hills—via a guided hike. Learn about the role these hills played in Philadelphia’s 18th- century “suburbanization” and 19th-century industrialization. In a city starved of topographic variation, we’ll understand how these vital hills cried out for preservation and so formed the genesis of Fairmount Park. Traversing an obscure rim trail high above Kelly Drive, we’ll get close to a world-famous sculptor’s eulogy to a martyred president, explore the location of a curious cabin where General Grant directed the final march on Richmond, and see the site where Philadelphia hoped to defend itself against General Lee (had Gettysburg gone differently). We'll also visit Stephen Girard’s physical legacy to his adopted city, culminating with a stop in one of this country's most unusual rock gardens dating back to 1936.

Chris Dougherty has nearly 10 years of experience working in and improving Philadelphia’s park spaces. As an urban planner and project manager for both Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the Fairmount Park Conservancy, Chris has deep knowledge of the rich tapestry of built and natural environments that comprise our urban park system. Trained also as a historian, Chris has worked as a cultural resource manager for digital history projects as well as the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.


  • Group size will be capped at 15.
  • Tour will last roughly two hours.
  • Portions of the hike are moderately steep, so please wear appropriate hiking attire.
  • Tour will start at the base of the Lemon Hill Steps near Sedgley and Kelly Drives
  • For an additional $15.00 we'll provide a printed copy of an archival, topographical map of Fairmount Park from 1870.


Email John Pettit at  john.pettit@atlasobscura.com.

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Advance ticket sales only. All ticket sales are final. No refunds or exchanges.