Philadelphia street art
Americas City Break Travel Ideas USA

USA: Wandering around Philadelphia’s Street Art

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.

Philadelphia street art

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.

Philadelphia street art

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.

Philadelphia street art

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.

Philadelphia street art

Also in this area around South Street are the Philadelphia Magic Gardens and other mosaic street murals by Philadelphia mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar.

Philadelphia street art

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.

Philadelphia street artThere are now over 130 murals, some of which have been created at community workshops.

Philadelphia street art

The Philadelphia mural program is still very active and you can take guided tours of the best murals – see the Mural Arts Program website.

Philadelphia street art

It’s just one more reason to LOVE visiting Philadelphia!

Philadelphia street art

By Natasha von Geldern

Have you seen Philadelphia street art?

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  1. And I thought Melbourne’s street art was fantastic! I love the idea of the Mosaic Garden to encourage another form of art. It’s great the way cities encourage their street art and it’s now promoted as a tourist attraction

  2. Wow the murals are incredible. Philadelphia has been on my second tier travel wish list, I really need to see how far it is from Toronto.

  3. Andrew Graeme Gould

    What a great idea they had to institute this program, and how well it has worked out. Wonderful murals captured in your equally wonderful photos. From the pure image point of view, I particularly like that one with the the taxi in the foreground. The contrast is very striking.

    How nice to have come across your site! All the best from Chile…

  4. Love! Really in awe at the trees, and then also the Mosaic Garden! Great post and photos!

    • Natasha von Geldern

      Hello fellow ‘Tash’, glad you liked it. There are some seriously talented people in Philadelphia! Just brilliant.

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