Tuesday, August 26, 2008

For Philadelphia Residents, "The Shore" May Not Be So Far Away

With rising gas prices, more Philadelphia area residents have chosen to stay closer to the area for their vacations. In an effort to please some of these "stay-cationers" and hopefully take some tourism dollars from the Jersey shore, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has commissioned Japanese construction firm Icanhaz Properties to build five artificial islands off the coast of Penn's Landing, three of which has already been completed.

Nutter said the idea for the islands came from the artificial islands built off the coast of Dubai in the shapes of palm trees and the Earth, but also because it has become so difficult to build anything on the Penn's Landing site.

"We are really doing something that we haven't seen anywhere else in this country, and we're using the beautiful Delaware River to our advantage," said Nutter. "We might not be able to provide our citizens with Wi-Fi, but we can sure as hell get them some islands."

The building of the islands has been no small task with over 600 million cubic feet of stone, rock and sand used to construct the three completed islands. Nutter said the material for the build has come from a number of different places.

"We did a little bit of dredging, that's where the bulk of the material came from," said Nutter. "But we had a ton of dirt left over from the Disney hole and the convention center expansion, so why not just dump it in the Delaware."

The islands completed are in the shape of iconic Philadelphia images and will eventually hold hotels and shopping venues for visitors. The first island to be completed was in the shape of the Rocky statue and has been named "Yo Island," followed by "Crack Island" in the shape of the Liberty Bell and "Pat's Steak Island" which was funded in part by the famous cheesesteak shop.

Nutter said all five islands should be completed by Memorial Day 2009, the traditional start of the summer season. Bookings for private islands and hotels are being handled at www.phillyshore.com.

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