Land Buoy


From the mid 1870’s until 1915, the Washington Avenue Immigration Station was Philadelphia’s port of entry for over a million immigrants from England, Ireland, Southern and Eastern Europe.

Buoys mark navigational points for ships at sea. Land Buoy is a celebratory marker.

During our team’s site visit, I discovered my grandparents and father had landed at this pier. Land Buoy gives visitors an opportunity to climb a spiral stair circling a 55’ mast, to a viewing platform and beacon. The climb exchanges views of sea and land, land and sea at different elevations, causing both to visually “bloom”, like an opening flower. Arriving at the platform, a person is in a “crows’ nest” watching, waiting and remembering the long, great journey. 


Land Buoy, (2014) is installed at the end of Washington Avenue Pier (a former Ellis Island alternative) on the Delaware River. The project was a community driven, ecological pier restoration in South Philadelphia.

Commission: Delaware River Waterfront Corporation and William Penn Foundation, Public Art Grant.

Collaboration: Keith Crawford, Architect; Team Lead: Applied Ecological Services, Philadelphia; Langan Engineering

(Philadelphia office); Neshaminy Constructors, Inc. PA.; Salter Spiral Stair, PA.; Solar One Lighting & Goetz Fiberglass.

Photography: Bradley Maule, Angelo Pinto 

Josephine (Jody) Pinto with Grandma Josephine Pinto
Josephine (Jody) Pinto with Grandma Josephine Pinto