Sunken Gardens

Sunken Gardens (HM3PP)

Location: Harrisburg, PA 17102 Dauphin County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 16.021', W 76° 53.528'

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Throughout the 19th Century, lumbering on the Susquehanna River was a major industry. Logs were cut from the forests in the northern part of the state and floated down river to sawmills at Harrisburg and points further south. a popular place where the loggers stopped to recreate was the "Hardscrabble" neighborhood, located between Herr and Calder Streets on the west side of Front Street. Here thrived boat liveries and related businesses catering to the river trade. However, with the decline of logging by the turn of the Century, and the subsequent public outcry that worsening sanitary conditions along the riverfront be addressed, Hardscrabble's days were numbered. The resulting plan developed by the Harrisburg League of municipal Improvements, one of the first and most comprehensive civic-improvement initiatives in the United States, involved the northward expansion of Riverfront Park, the construction of the famous river steps and as one of the last components of this initiative, the demolition of old Hardscrabble in 1924 for the development of the beautiful Sunken Gardens. Although incorporated into the park, some of the basement grade levels of the old houses were retained and not filled to provide for a unique garden plan, formal and symmetrical in design, which has since offered a stunning and unparalleled vantage point to view the Susquehanna River, its islands and mountains beyond.
Top Photo
1915 view looking north on Front Street from Cumberland Street toward Hardscrabble, at left, where the Sunken Gardens now exist.
Middle Photo
View of the Sunken Gardens looking south in 1930.
Bottom Photo
1940 postcard view of the Sunken Gardens prior to the Construction of the M. Harvey Taylor Bridge.
HM NumberHM3PP
Series This marker is part of the Pennsylvania: The Harrisburg History Project series
Placed ByThe Harrisburg History Project Commissioned by Mayor Stephen R. Reed
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, September 21st, 2014 at 6:02am PDT -07:00
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18T E 339114 N 4459111
Decimal Degrees40.26701667, -76.89213333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 16.021', W 76° 53.528'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 16' 1.26" N, 76° 53' 31.68" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)717
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1201 Capital Area Greenbelt, Harrisburg PA 17102, US
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