While zigging and zagging through Philadelphia, we were lucky enough to stumble upon one of the famous Philadelphia murals. We were exploring and wandering the Society Hill neighborhood when we came across the mural below, Mapping Courage, which took up almost half the block! The mural honors W.E.B. Du Bois and Engine #11, a historical African American firehouse. Du Bois lived in Philly for a time, and in 1896 conducted a groundbreaking census of African American households in the 7th Ward.
On further inspection, we saw that the mural is part of downtown’s “Mural Mile,” 17 of the most iconic Philadelphia murals, organized into a self guided walking route assisted by a phone number or a podcast. It’s one of the projects that Mural Arts Project has spearheaded over the past 30 years. There are also seasonal guided tours available by foot or trolley.
Thirty years after Mural Arts’ humble beginnings as an anti-graffiti program, it has evolved into an internationally recognized leader in community based public art and a leading expert in mural-making and art education, having served over 30,000 young people and created 3,600 works of public art. This legacy reflects our driving mission to create art that transforms public spaces and individual lives and asserts our fundamental belief that art can ignite change. -via http://muralarts.org/artispower
We used our phone to pull up the self-guided walking tour and we were off! In usual fashion we did the walk backwards. Below are some of the highlights! If you like street art, be sure to check out some of our other gallery posts from Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena. To help find murals near you, Mural Locator has a great, international map feature we recently discovered, too!
Isaiah Zagar’s Mosaic Murals
An added bonus along our walk was a glimpse of some of the famous mosaic works by Isaiah Zagar, an award-winning mosaic mural artist whose works are featured in Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Zagar began tiling South Street in the 1960s, and today has 200 mosaics around the city. Zagar is well-traveled, and his years spent in the Peace Corps in Peru and residencies in China and India have clearly influenced his art. Peek down the alleys along Bainbridge Street for some cool mosaics in surprising places.