Seeing Philadelphia Through Its Murals

If you’ve ever been to Philadelphia, you may have noticed the murals that dot the city.  Travel writer Terence Baker decided to challenge himself to see as many as he could in one weekend, touring the city in the process.  He writes about his exploration in Mural Plural: A New Way of Seeing Philadelphia in the October/November edition of Car & Travel Magazine.  It’s an inventive way to see the city, and he finds unexpected gems along the way. 

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The Mural Arts Program, which is responsible for the murals, began in 1984 as an attempt by the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network to cease the graffiti that covered the city.  To do this, they hired Jane Golden to reach out to and work with graffiti writers and encourage them to channel their talents into mural-making.  Mural painters are given the opportunity to refine their artistic skills and beautify their own neighborhoods.  Since it began, the Mural Arts Program has produced over 3,000 murals ranging in size from as small as a waste bin to larger than a four story warehouse.

Baker takes us on a tour of the murals that he encountered during this weekend and the businesses that share walls with them.  One of the most memorable is a life size mural of three Humpback whales.  The artist, Wyland, has painted 100 life-size murals of whales, known as “Whaling Walls,” in 13 countries on four continents over 27 years.  Another highlight is Mural Mile, a selection of 17 of the cities most iconic murals located in downtown Philadelphia.  There is a free downloadable audio tour available through the Mural Arts Program. 

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Baker enjoyed his tour of Philadelphia through its murals and discovered shops and areas that he would not have otherwise.  Maybe the next time we go to Philadelphia, we’ll follow in his footsteps.

For more information on The Mural Arts Program, visit http://muralarts.org.  You will find information on tours, videos, and photos!  

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