You Can’t Sit on the Wall in Rittenhouse Square Anymore

A Philly tradition has ended: Signs went up this week prohibiting sitting on the wall in Rittenhouse, and police are enforcing the new rule.

A sign says "no sitting on wall" in Rittenhouse Square

Photo | Dan McQuade

I heard the rumor. I saw the signs. But I had to check it out for myself.

So I went to Rittenhouse Square this afternoon at 2:34 p.m., grabbed a good spot on the wall and sat. At 2:49 p.m., a police officer told me I had to move. Yes, it’s true: You can no longer sit on the wall in Rittenhouse Square. (You might get 15 minutes of sitting time before a police officer notices, though.)

The officer — who is stationed in a patrol car inside the park — was incredibly apologetic. This was true all over; I observed another officer who actually told a man sitting on a bench not to light up his cigarette because there’s a park smoking ban. “I don’t want you to waste it,” the cop said.

The cop who stopped me told me the signs went up yesterday and Tuesday.

Per another officer I talked to inside Rittenhouse Square, the change was made in response to the shooting in October and the “rampant drug use” in the park. Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, which runs the park, did not immediately return a request for comment.

Whatever the reasoning, generations have sat on the wall in Rittenhouse. It’s more comfortable than the benches! If the city wants to decrease drug use in the park, then enforce the law against public drug use. To simply ban people from sitting on the wall in a public park is most certainly overkill. Rittenhouse Square is such a great park because it attracts various groups in the city to gather and sit — often on the walls. Will people be banned from sitting in the grass next?

Jackie Whyte of Friends of Rittenhouse Square, whose mission it is to “preserve, protect, and beautify” the square, told Billy Penn that “[d]ue to continuous vandalism and marijuana smoking, City Officials, Parks and Recreation, City Police, and the Friends determined it was in the Park’s best interest to no longer allow people to sit on the balustrade.”