130 Frank L. Chance


Clark Park is the busiest park in West Philadelphia and has 120 years of history. Members of the Friends of Clark Park found this shard of Chinese porcelain, decorated with cobalt blue underglaze and red overglaze enamel, when we were planting a tree in 2008. The object attests to the role of this area as a landfill before it became a city park in 1895, as well as to the trading relationship Philadelphia had with China in the 18th and 19th centuries. According to experts at the University of Pennsylvania, it probably was made in Jingdezhen, Fujian, China around 1850 or so, and came to Philadelphia by ship in the second half of the 19th century. Other objects found when digging tree pits in Clark Park include glass bottles, porcelain electric insulators, metal nuts and bolts, and dishes from households around the neighborhood.  The families playing in the park probably never think about the history beneath their feet. On a more poetic note, I like to think of the decoration as representing the flowers and plants of the park and their contribution of green to our urban space.