Tag Archives: Murals

What I love about Philadelphia

4 Jul
English: Fairmount Park near where Cresheim an...

English: Fairmount Park near where Cresheim and Wissahickon Creeks meet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love the Fourth of July. And I especially love living in the place where the United States was born. Philadelphia is a grand place to celebrate our birthday.

In honor of the Fourth, here are a few of the things I love about Philadelphia.

1. Walkability. Sure, there are some exceptions. But by and large, this is a very darn walkable city. And with new additions like Penn Park, it’s getting more pedestrian-friendly all the time.

2. Our whole park system. I’ll probably do a post on this someday, but for now I’ll just note that Fairmount Park is the largest city park system in the world. Bet you didn’t know that.

3. Neighborhoods. Yup, we’re a city of neighborhoods. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times. But one of the things that actually means is that Philadelphia isn’t really a city of 1.5 million. Rather, it’s more like a series of small circles of 5,000 to 20,000 people. That can make our city feel a lot more homey (okay, or sometimes stifling) than it might seem at first glance.

4. The Mural Arts Program. I love being able to look up and see something creative rather than yet another casino ad. Of course not all the art is to my taste, but what is?

5. SEPTA. Seriously, it’s a phenomenally useful way to get around our city. There have been days when I went for not just the trifecta but the quad-fecta in using a trolley, regional rail, subway, and bus line.

6. Newspapers. I know I was hard on the DN and the Inquirer just a couple of days ago, but I rant because I care. And I’m very glad they’re out there fighting the good fight and documenting the good, the bad, and the nutty here in our city. So thanks Daily News, Inquirer, Al Dia, Tribune, and all the other voices trying hard to tell our region’s story.

I could add a whole lot more, but let me end here for now.  Happy Fourth, everyone. Be safe, peaceful, and kind to each other.

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Classical color

27 Apr

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit the Haas & Hahn mural project in the 2500-2800 blocks of Germantown Avenue in North Philadelphia.

MetroPCS store signThere has been a lot of press on both the beauty and the challenges of the project. I am inclined to focus on the former.

I particularly like the way that the artists incorporated the businesses’ existing signs into their artwork. For example, there’s a MetroPCS store that uses purple and orange.

And this Gentle Dental, in blue and white. Gentle Dental sign and mural

The Hair of Elegance salon is definitely my favorite. Hair of Elegance sign and muralSo sunshiny!

People’s fears about gentrification are very real, and some of the media coverage has had a decidedly insulting tone (implying or straight out saying that the area is a “slum”).

But you don’t have to buy into an impoverished or stereotyped view of North Philadelphia in order to acknowledge that everyone deserves beauty in their lives.

A while back I had the privilege of hearing Bill Strickland speak about his work in Pittsburgh.

I won’t attempt to summarize his extraordinary accomplishments here, but I will quote him on the importance of making his educational center a beautiful place. (The context is Strickland seeing a Frank Lloyd Wright house for the first time, and being struck by the use of light.)

I thought, “If I could ever bring that light into my neighborhood — bring it to people who deserved it and would respond to it as wholeheartedly and creatively as anybody — then I was home free.”