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History of Benjamin Rush State Park

The original residents of this area were the Lenni-Lenape. They hunted, fished, and grew crops along the Poquessing Creek. Over time, their footpaths became wagon trails, and then the major roads we use today.

Byberry Township was established here in 1694, soon after the arrival of William Penn. Once the most rural Township in Philadelphia County, it became part of the city of Philadelphia in 1850.

In 1906, the City of Philadelphia built a psychiatric hospital near the intersection of Roosevelt Blvd. and Southampton Road, for patients who could benefit from the fresh air and open spaces. The Commonwealth of PA administered the Philadelphia State Hospital (“Byberry”) from 1936 to 1990 when the hospital closed.

Benjamin Rush State Park was created in 1975 on 275 acres no longer needed by the hospital.

The park is named for Dr. Benjamin Rush who was born in nearby Byberry Township.

Groundbreaking for a $4.7 million dollar capital improvement project occurred on November 19, 2012, and was completed in the fall of 2013. Improved trails, parking, and comfort facilities enhance this busy park.

Benjamin Rush

January 4, 1746 – April 19, 1813

Founding Father Benjamin Rush signed the Declaration of Independence and attended the Continental Congress. He is the Father of American Psychiatry and published the first text book on it in the U.S. He advocated improved conditions for mental patients and careful clinical observation and study. Dr. Rush pioneered addiction therapies including treatment of alcoholism as a disease.

Benjamin Rush was in his 16th year as the treasurer of the U.S. Mint when he died after a short illness.