Last week signage was installed at Rittenhouse Park banning visitors from sitting on the popular walls. According to the Friends of Rittenhouse, a citizen-run organization that cares for the park, the signs were posted in response to increased vandalism and pot-smoking. The city’s Parks & Rec department added that the walls (limestone balustrades) were not designed for seating and so needed to be structurally protected.
In response to the ban, which many believe to be an exclusionary means of determining who uses this most public of spaces*, Erika L. Reinhard organized a sit-in protest called, “Sittenhouse.” Through Facebook, Reinhard called on citizens to take to the walls Tuesday at noon.
Over the weekend, Mayor Kenney weighed in via Twitter telling constituents that he shared their frustrations and encouraging them to “sit where you want.” He then went on to ask that users of the park refrain from littering, tagging structures and smoking pot. Parks & Rec has not made a statement as to an official end to the ban. Sittenhouse has been reworked from a protest to a celebration of the park space
*Inga Saffron, Architecture Critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, fleshes out the problem with privately kept public parks here.