The B Street Bridge in Kensington has always been one of the first things one sees as the eastbound Market-Frankford Line pulls into Somerset Station. Only now, the view looks a bit different.
B Street Bridge just got the mural treatment from the Mural Arts program, courtesy of artist Calo Rosa and his army of young adults who have spent the past few weeks painting the bridge in bright and bold colors.
The mural project came about in response to the recent cleanup of the Gurney Street tracks, which run beneath the B Street Bridge. The tracks, owned by Conrail, notoriously served as “El Campamento,” a place for heroin users and the homeless, serving as a symbol of the nationwide opioid crisis. This summer, Conrail and the city made moves to clean up the encampment.
The mural, titled “Transformations,” serves to highlight the Kensington community and features images of flowers and graphics. But before painting, artist Rosa also spoke with local seniors who said the bridge serves as both a metaphorical and literal connection in the community between cultures, as well as the past and present.
“This bridge has been part of different lives,” Rosa said at Tuesday’s mural dedication. “
With that history in mind, Rosa, who is originally from San Salvador, brought his colorful street art style and Latin American culture to the bridge, as well.
To paint the bridge, Rosa worked with the Mural Arts’ Youth Violence Reduction Partnership Guild, which employs young people aged 18 to 24 who are on probation. Mural-making is one of the skills that they learn in the program, with the hope that they’ll use their learned tools to transform and give back to their own communities.
“We are here to make changes with you, not for you,” said Rosa.
The bridge is located at between Gurney and Tusculum Streets in Kensington.