Why is Philadelphia street art so amazing? Well, back in the mid 1980s the city of Philadelphia came up with an innovative idea to combat graffiti that was blighting their city.
The Anti-Graffiti Network hired a muralist called Jane Golden and tasked her with redirecting the talents of graffiti writers into mural painting. The Anti-Graffiti programme was born.
Now there are more than 3,000 murals on walls in and around Philadelphia. And Philadelphia street art is amazing and inspiring. I took a walk around the quiet streets of central and southside Philadelphia on a Saturday morning and snapped a few.
Since 1996 the organisation has been called the Mural Arts Program (with Jane Golden as director). They run eduction programmes for at-risk youth and nurture neighbourhood and community collaboration.
They even go so far as to claim the power of art to break cycles of crime and violence in communities. The social benefits have been proved and the city of Philadelphia is a richer place for these wonderful murals.
This next one is in the 9th Street Italian market in Philadelphia, a row of cafes and vendors that is not at all gentrified, just full of good people, many of whom are third and fourth generation Italian purveyors. This is where the restaurateurs go to purchase produce and the coffee is excellent.
Also in this area around South Street are the Philadelphia Magic Gardens and other mosaic street murals by Philadelphia mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar.
The Magic Gardens were created on a vacant lot and combine Zagar’s murals with poetry and form a folk art sanctuary but there are plenty of examples of his delicate and delightful work down side streets and alleyways.
The Philadelphia mural program is still very active and you can take guided tours of the best murals – see the Mural Arts Program website.
It’s just one more reason to LOVE visiting Philadelphia!
By Natasha von Geldern
Have you seen Philadelphia street art?
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