“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Harrisburg in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Sunken Gardens

Sunken Gardens Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Beverly Pfingsten, March 15, 2008
1. Sunken Gardens Marker
Inscription.  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
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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.

Erected by The Harrisburg History Project Commissioned by Mayor Stephen R. Reed.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Horticulture & ForestryIndustry & CommerceParks & Recreational AreasWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Pennsylvania, The Harrisburg History Project series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1924.
Location. 40° 16.021′ N, 76° 53.528′ W. Marker is in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in Dauphin County. Marker is at the intersection of N. Front Street and Cumberland Street, on the right when traveling south on N. Front Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Harrisburg PA 17102, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of
Sunken Gardens looking north. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Beverly Pfingsten, March 15, 2008
2. Sunken Gardens looking north.
this marker. Lest We Forget (here, next to this marker); Firefighters' Memorial Monument (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); J. Horace McFarland (about 400 feet away); “Never Again” (about 600 feet away); Paxtang Manor (approx. 0.2 miles away); Green Street Residences (approx. 0.2 miles away); Mira Lloyd Dock Residence (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Old Waterworks (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Harrisburg.
Entrance to Sunken Gardens from the Riverfront. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Beverly Pfingsten, March 15, 2008
3. Entrance to Sunken Gardens from the Riverfront.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 12, 2020. It was originally submitted on March 16, 2008, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 3,630 times since then and 181 times this year. Last updated on November 9, 2020, by Carl Gordon Moore Jr. of North East, Maryland. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on March 16, 2008, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.

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May. 31, 2023