About the Park
The Wilkes-Barre River Commons is a riverfront municipal park located in Wilkes Barre, PA, open daily and year-round. The park is located on the eastern banks of the Susquehanna North Branch, spanning both sides of the Market Street Bridge adjacent to downtown. It is the 16th oldest park in America and one of the few with a revitalized riverfront on the eastern seaboard. The park is also located along the 12-mile Wyoming Valley Levee System, one of the largest projects east of the Mississippi and critical to flood prevention in the region. This levee is known as the Luzerne County Levee Trail and serves as a popular walking, running, and biking trail in Luzerne County.
This $23-million dollar park underwent renovations in 2007 and were finished in 2010. Among other improvements, a new 750-seat amphitheater was built and features live events ranging from Environmental Education Programming to Shakespeare performances. The park also features a quarter mile of paved walking pathways with gardens and ornamental trees, a 7,000-person grand landing, the 100-person Sardoni circle, and a 300-foot fishing pier. These spaces are open to the public and are available to reserve for events.
There are two grand gateways in the park help connect the city to the river. The purpose of these gateways and the commons is to connect citizens to the Susquehanna River, educating them on how the they can help protect the natural resources and their home waterway.
The park also has a rich history. In 1769, colonial settlers established the commons on the east side of the river, using the space to tether their livestock. It was also used as a camp by soldiers during the Revolutionary War. In the early 1800s, it was the site of the famous annual American Shad run until the dam at Nanticoke was built, blocking the passage of fish. The River Commons is also among an exclusive list of famous parks, including New York’s Central Park, that were designed by the family of Frederick Law Olmstead.
Parking and Trail Access
The park address is 133 N River St, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702.
To River Commons:
- From I-80 East: Take exit 260B for I-81 towards North towards Wilkes-Barre. Continue on I-81 N for 14.3 miles and take exit 165B onto PA-309 Business North/Wilkes-Barre Township Blvd towards Wilkes-Barre. Continue on PA-309 for 2.1 miles and take a left onto Coal St. Continue for 0.8 miles and turn right onto Wilkes-Barre Blvd. Continue for 0.3 miles and turn left onto Scott St. Continue for 0.2 miles and make a slight right onto E North St. Continue for 0.4 miles and turn left onto North River St. Continue for 0.2 miles and the River Commons will be on the right.
- From I-81 South: Take exit 170B and merge onto PA 309 North towards Wilkes-Barre. Continue for 2.4 miles and take exit 3 toward Wilkes-Barre/Plains. Continue for 0.4 miles and turn left onto South River St. Continue for 1.5 miles and the River Commons will be on the right.
- From PA-309 South: Take exit 3 towards Wilkes-Barre. Continue for 0.3 miles and merge onto South River St. Continue for 1.4 miles and the River Commons Will be located on the right.
On-Street Parking is available throughout downtown Wilkes-Barre.
Public Parking is available at:
- 30 N. Main Street: 680 Spaces (From River St, take W Market St towards Public Square and turn left onto N. Main St. Lot will be on right)
- 15 N. Washington Street: 280 Spaces (From River St, take W Market St towards Public Square and continue straight onto E Market St. Turn left onto N Washington St and lot will be on right)
- 18 E. Northampton Street: 165 Spaces (From River Street, take Market St towards Public Square and downtown and turn right onto S Main St. Turn left onto E Northampton St and lot will be on left)
- *Rates: $1/hour, $5 daily minimum
Private Parking Decks and Lots are available at:
- Boscov’s Department Store Garage: 279 Spaces
- Citizen’s Bank Parking Garage: 400 Spaces
- King’s College Off-Street Parking: 1,000
- Wilkes-University Off-Street Parking: 1,200 Spaces