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Resilience & Humility: Words from the Executive Director

To supporters and friends, both old and new of the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center, we greatly appreciate your kind outreach, and encouraging words in the wake of Hurricane Ida, which touched ground on September 1st. Fairmount Water Works was certainly not alone as we experienced drenching rains and historic flooding that struck our region, the country and communities around the world.

After a series of site evaluations and assessments of the Interpretive Center, I would like to share an update of the status of our Center and our newest exhibition POOL: A Social History of Segregation.

We are feeling uplifted in announcing, the Board of Directors for the Fund for the Water Works, the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Water Department support restoring what was lost or damaged as a result of this destructive storm. We view the challenges of rebuilding as an opportunity for the Interpretive Center to come back better, stronger, and more resilient. We will be better prepared for a future that will undoubtedly continue to bring about extraordinary environmental consequences associated with climate change.

Beginning in the 1800’s the Fairmount Water Works has been an architectural and engineering model for innovation, serving the public proudly in all its iterations, and we are committed to safeguarding this landmark building with state-of-the-art design, planning and engineering. Already, we have begun to research new technologies and best practices needed to restore the Center, while reestablishing it as a learning space that learns and shares paving a collaborative path in the future of public education.

Many of you have been inquiring about our newest and quite possibly our most timely and relevant exhibition, POOL, originally scheduled to open to the public September 3, just two days after the near historic storm hit our region. Thanks to the foresight of the exhibition’s designer, our exhibition installation team, construction workers and staff, I am delighted to share, our 4,700 square foot exhibition fared quite well and escaped significant damages following the storm!

Although there is much work ahead before restoring our building to the highest of safety standards, we look forward to welcoming the public back in the not-too-distant future and hope you will experience the POOL exhibition upon our reopening.

It is with resilience, determination and a healthy dose of humility we foresee our future as a world class Interpretive Center committed to greater awareness, knowledge and understanding of environmental and social issues surrounding water. The Fairmount Water Works will continue its mission as a landmark institution where people from all backgrounds and all communities are welcome to visit and join the conversation.

I look forward to keeping you updated with our progress.

Karen Young
Executive Director
Fairmount Water Works – Interpretive Center

For more information about POOL, visit