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Philly’s best light art, mapped

Philly shines bright all year long

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The holidays may be over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be wowed by Philly’s bright lights. This city is filled with plenty of non-denominational light art displays that shine on year-round—or at least long enough to help get you through the dreary winter months.

Here are 10 public art installations—plus one bonus—that double as light displays found all throughout the city, from the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to a hidden side street in South Philly.

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1. Boathouse Row

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1 Boathouse Row
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Boathouse Row was particularly beautiful last holiday season when it lit up in multi-colored lights for Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, but this iconic row of boathouses shines bright year-round. For best views, head to the Spring Garden Street Bridge, the Fairmount Water Works, or across the Schuylkill along Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.

2. Spring Garden Street Connector

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600 N Front St
Philadelphia, PA 19123

The Spring Garden Connector Project brought some much-needed color and brightness to the underpass of I-95 and the El, thereby making a much more pleasant connection from Northern Liberties to the Delaware waterfront. The pre-programmed LED lighting is designed around the cycle of the sun as it rises and sets.

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3. The Franklin Institute

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222 N 20th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Next time you walk by the Franklin Institute, take a moment to take in the Shimmer Wall. Designed by Ned Kahn, the wall features 12,500 clear-anodized aluminum panels that move very slightly with the wind, giving off a the shimmery effect.

4. Light Matrix at 3601 Market

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3601 Market St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Next time you pass by 3601 Market building, look up. The tower’s marquee is all aglow with the Light Matrix, a canopy of 5,265 white LED lights designed by artist Leo Villareal. It continually changes patterns, resembling everything from a planetarium at night to Monet’s water lilies.

5. Comcast Center

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Comcast Center, 1701 John F Kennedy Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Like Boathouse Row (#1), the Comcast Center doesn’t only dazzle during the holidays. Its lobby features the Comcast Experience Video Wall, the largest four-millimeter LED screen in the world. The mesmerizing wall features animated scenes from all around the world all day—it’s so realistic because the screen’s resolution is five times stronger than the average hi-def TV.

Courtesy of the Comcast Center

6. Ars Medendi (cylinder) at Thomas Jefferson University

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1020 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

If you find yourself on Jefferson’s campus at dusk, head to the Scott Memorial Library, where Jim Sanborn’s Ars Medendi is on display. The installation is made of two sculptures that feature historic texts from world medicine.

Photo by David Super, Medical Media Services, © Thomas Jefferson University

7. South Street Bridge

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Four years after the improved South Street Bridge opened, its four towers finally lit up in all their LED-lit glory. They always look a little different, so be sure to take note next time you make your way across the bridge or drive by on the Schuylkill.

8. Southstar Lofts

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521 S Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Next time you stroll down South Broad Street, look up: Carl Dranoff’s Southstar Lofts “Lightplay” installation is a trippy display by artists Mags Harries and Lajos Heder that casts a prism of colorful light along the sidewalk, building, and subway entrance. During the day, the installation casts rainbows along the streets and building. At night, the installation is powered by solar LED lights.

9. Percy Street Project

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S Percy St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

This neon-tastic mural in South Philly was created by Philly locals David Guinn and Drew Billiau as a way to bring some color to a quiet street that was often riddled with crime. The mural is located just south of 9th and Wharton streets. Guinn and Billiau pitched their fight-crime-with-art proposal to the Knight Foundation and won a challenge to create the mural in partnership with the Mural Arts program.

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10. Bonus: Philly’s skyline

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Cira Centre, 2929 Arch St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Have you admired Philly’s skyline at night recently? A bunch of its soaring towers really put on a show once the sun goes down, showing off their LED light displays all night. From Cira Centre to the new FMC Tower to the CHOP Tower. For best views, check out the view from South Street Bridge (#8).

Courtesy of Shutterstock.com

1. Boathouse Row

1 Boathouse Row, Philadelphia, PA 19130

Boathouse Row was particularly beautiful last holiday season when it lit up in multi-colored lights for Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, but this iconic row of boathouses shines bright year-round. For best views, head to the Spring Garden Street Bridge, the Fairmount Water Works, or across the Schuylkill along Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.

1 Boathouse Row
Philadelphia, PA 19130

2. Spring Garden Street Connector

600 N Front St, Philadelphia, PA 19123

The Spring Garden Connector Project brought some much-needed color and brightness to the underpass of I-95 and the El, thereby making a much more pleasant connection from Northern Liberties to the Delaware waterfront. The pre-programmed LED lighting is designed around the cycle of the sun as it rises and sets.

600 N Front St
Philadelphia, PA 19123

3. The Franklin Institute

222 N 20th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Next time you walk by the Franklin Institute, take a moment to take in the Shimmer Wall. Designed by Ned Kahn, the wall features 12,500 clear-anodized aluminum panels that move very slightly with the wind, giving off a the shimmery effect.

222 N 20th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

4. Light Matrix at 3601 Market

3601 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Next time you pass by 3601 Market building, look up. The tower’s marquee is all aglow with the Light Matrix, a canopy of 5,265 white LED lights designed by artist Leo Villareal. It continually changes patterns, resembling everything from a planetarium at night to Monet’s water lilies.

3601 Market St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

5. Comcast Center

Comcast Center, 1701 John F Kennedy Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Courtesy of the Comcast Center

Like Boathouse Row (#1), the Comcast Center doesn’t only dazzle during the holidays. Its lobby features the Comcast Experience Video Wall, the largest four-millimeter LED screen in the world. The mesmerizing wall features animated scenes from all around the world all day—it’s so realistic because the screen’s resolution is five times stronger than the average hi-def TV.

Comcast Center, 1701 John F Kennedy Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19103

6. Ars Medendi (cylinder) at Thomas Jefferson University

1020 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Photo by David Super, Medical Media Services, © Thomas Jefferson University

If you find yourself on Jefferson’s campus at dusk, head to the Scott Memorial Library, where Jim Sanborn’s Ars Medendi is on display. The installation is made of two sculptures that feature historic texts from world medicine.

1020 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

7. South Street Bridge

Philadelphia, PA 19146

Four years after the improved South Street Bridge opened, its four towers finally lit up in all their LED-lit glory. They always look a little different, so be sure to take note next time you make your way across the bridge or drive by on the Schuylkill.

8. Southstar Lofts

521 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

Next time you stroll down South Broad Street, look up: Carl Dranoff’s Southstar Lofts “Lightplay” installation is a trippy display by artists Mags Harries and Lajos Heder that casts a prism of colorful light along the sidewalk, building, and subway entrance. During the day, the installation casts rainbows along the streets and building. At night, the installation is powered by solar LED lights.

521 S Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

9. Percy Street Project

S Percy St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

This neon-tastic mural in South Philly was created by Philly locals David Guinn and Drew Billiau as a way to bring some color to a quiet street that was often riddled with crime. The mural is located just south of 9th and Wharton streets. Guinn and Billiau pitched their fight-crime-with-art proposal to the Knight Foundation and won a challenge to create the mural in partnership with the Mural Arts program.

S Percy St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

10. Bonus: Philly’s skyline

Cira Centre, 2929 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Have you admired Philly’s skyline at night recently? A bunch of its soaring towers really put on a show once the sun goes down, showing off their LED light displays all night. From Cira Centre to the new FMC Tower to the CHOP Tower. For best views, check out the view from South Street Bridge (#8).

Cira Centre, 2929 Arch St
Philadelphia, PA 19104