Murals of Philadelphia: Starting My Collection

Philadelphia muralIt was vacation time for me this past week. Well, sort of. We moved our son to Philadelphia, so it was more like a working vacation—i.e. moving van full of furniture and books, hot weather, narrow streets, and row houses with steep, narrow steps. It was fun nonetheless.

And interesting.

Philadelphia is a new to us and it’s definitely unique from other cities we’ve visited. Did I mention narrow streets?

Perhaps what makes it most unique are its murals. According to Captain Norm, our duck boat tour guide, the City of Brotherly Love has over 3000 murals on its walls, with another 500 yet commissioned.

Philadelphia mural

Known as the Mural Arts Program, this collection of architectural paintings began in 1984 as an effort to blot out graffiti. The city hired muralist Jane Golden, and she organized graffitists to create art more constructive and beautifying to the city. Over the years this program has encouraged thousands of at-risk children to use art as their voice, all the while developing skills and confidence.

Philadelphia mural

I must say, Ms. Garmin, our friendly-but-not-always-accurate global positionista, took us on some wild and crazy rides through the city. As we roamed the neighborhoods, I like how the murals depict their culture and history.

For images much better than my car window shots, click here.

Philadelphia mural

We saw lots of fenced in areas, and gated windows and doors. Sadly, there are also many old, once-regal buildings now standing empty. Murals, such as the one above, help soften the harshness.

I really like Jane Golden’s mantra—just three simple words: “Art Saves Lives.” Philadelphia’s mural art will thankfully save the lives of many young people. I’m hoping it saves some buildings as well.

Philadelphia mural

So, my son will be attending Temple University for a graduate degree, which means we’ll be making quite a few trips to Philadelphia in the next few years. I’ve compiled my list of things to do and see. I’ve also set the goal of photographing as many murals as I can (and actually getting out of the car for better shots:-).

Stay tuned.

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