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The B Street Bridge in Philadelphia which has a mural painted on it depicting a connection between cultures and the past and present. Photo by Melissa Romero

13 powerful new murals to check out in Philly right now

From a haunting portrayal of lost time in prison, to a mural on identifying culture through clothing

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Editor’s note: This article was last published in July, 2018, and has been updated with the most recent information.

Since we last published this map of must-see murals more amazing pieces have popped up in Philly—many of which have addressed topical, difficult issues. This time around we examined not only the newest murals, but also the ones that have the most powerful impact on their viewers.

A lot of the murals are part of the city’s Mural Arts program, which is the largest public arts program in the country, but there are a few extraordinary pieces by independent local artists and other art initiatives worth a visit, too.

Regardless of the program, they all tell a story and should be must-visits for your winter bucket list—some of them won’t be around after this season, so start exploring! They’re listed here from North to South.

Know of another new mural you want to share? Leave a comment or email us a tip!

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“Transformations”

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In Kensington, artist Calo Rosa has also brought more color to the B Street Bridge, which is situated above the Conrail train tracks. The mural, titled “Transformations,” serves to highlight the metaphorical and literal connection in the community between cultures, as well as the past and present. The bridge is located at between Gurney and Tusculum Streets in Kensington.

The B Street Bridge in Philadelphia which has a mural painted on it depicting a connection between cultures and the past and present. Photo by Melissa Romero

Families Belong Together

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One of the most chilling and topical murals of the past few years, has to be this one, called “Families Belong Together” that was finished in mid-July. Chilean artist Ian Pierce created this mural in response to “harsh immigration laws,” according to the Philly mural arts page, and to pay homage to Philly’s newly cemented status as a sanctuary city.

Waterloo Playground

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This isn’t a mural in the traditional sense; rather than painted on the side of a building or parking lot, it’s laid across the basketball courts at Waterloo Playground. It’s just one part of a larger effort to beautify the once-run down West Kensington playground and bring it back to life. The design took inspiration from members of the surrounding community, and was completed late last summer

Dreams, Diaspora, Destiny

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This project, which wrapped up in late 2018, brought something entirely new to the world of mural arts in Philly—augmented reality. Download the free MuralArtsAR app and listen to an original score that’s paired with this West Philly mural, which is meant to start a conversation about the future of the neighborhood.

Still Life

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Like “Portraits of Justice” (#10), this Brewerytown mural deals with issues in the criminal justice system, except this mural takes a more metaphorical (and hauntingly beautiful) look at the system with a traditional still life painting. It’s meant to reflect the freezing of time that comes with incarceration.

“Still Life invites viewers to slow down and contemplate temporality, incarceration, and freedom, while challenging mainstream ideas about who gets to make and experience fine art,” Mural Arts writes.

Ed Bradley

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60 Minutes correspondant Ed Bradley was a Philly native, and the first black television correspondant to cover the White House, so it’s no surprise his home neighborhood of West Philly wants to honor him. Sadly, Bradley died in 2006, but his stunning journalism legacy—marked by awards and international reporting—made him a clear candidate for a hometown mural.

Rippling Moon

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Mural Arts contributor Meg Saligman (of the “Bird Feed” fame) painted this mural on the side of the Children’s Crisis Treatment Center, representing both trauma and resilience.

With this mural, which looks like a tapestry, artists ask, “how do we create our own cultural identities?” Students in the Artrepreneurs program examined uniforms and textiles, “through the lens of global inclusivity and the stories of African immigrants in the West Philadelphia community,” with a project that culminated in this stunning and detailed piece, according to Mural Arts

Water Gives Life

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A beautiful and vibrant painting in the heart of the city, this mural examines the connection between plants, wildlife, and water. It’s meant to open up discussions about sustainability in the midst of an urban landscape.

Portraits of Justice

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There are several murals around the city dealing with the criminal justice system, but this one really made a splash when it premiered during Mural Arts Month in November. It’s part of a larger initiative that looks at ways to combat prison overpopulation and reform the criminal justice system.

“The initiative engages the public in reimagining the criminal justice system through the lens of art, advocacy and policy reform,” Mural Arts wrote. Read more about the program here.

Octavius Catto

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Octavius Catto is an incredibly important historic figure in Philly. In the mid-to-late 1800s, he pushed for voting rights for black citizens, he worked closely with Frederick Douglass, and fought (and won) to desegregate Philly’s public trolleys. He was assassinated in 1871 at just 32 years old, but has since become one of the most prominent figures in the history of Civil Rights in Philly. This mural, which follows a memorial statue erected at City Hall in 2017, went up in Catto’s old South Philly neighborhood in late 2017.

‘Migrating Home’

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‘Migrating Home’ by artist Shira Walinsky adorns a rowhome at 10th and Dickinson and is an homage to the many cultures and communities that call South Philly home. One look at the mural shows the many nods to various to the countries from which residents have migrated.

Philly Special

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To anyone outside of Philly this may not seem “powerful” (or even make much sense) but to Eagles fans, it means a lot. It’s a recreation of the play that won the underdog team their first Super Bowl, and it’s a reminder of the grit, hope, and Philly pride that came with the final game. Plus, as a city, we love our Eagles murals.

“Transformations”

The B Street Bridge in Philadelphia which has a mural painted on it depicting a connection between cultures and the past and present. Photo by Melissa Romero

In Kensington, artist Calo Rosa has also brought more color to the B Street Bridge, which is situated above the Conrail train tracks. The mural, titled “Transformations,” serves to highlight the metaphorical and literal connection in the community between cultures, as well as the past and present. The bridge is located at between Gurney and Tusculum Streets in Kensington.

The B Street Bridge in Philadelphia which has a mural painted on it depicting a connection between cultures and the past and present. Photo by Melissa Romero

Families Belong Together

One of the most chilling and topical murals of the past few years, has to be this one, called “Families Belong Together” that was finished in mid-July. Chilean artist Ian Pierce created this mural in response to “harsh immigration laws,” according to the Philly mural arts page, and to pay homage to Philly’s newly cemented status as a sanctuary city.

Waterloo Playground

This isn’t a mural in the traditional sense; rather than painted on the side of a building or parking lot, it’s laid across the basketball courts at Waterloo Playground. It’s just one part of a larger effort to beautify the once-run down West Kensington playground and bring it back to life. The design took inspiration from members of the surrounding community, and was completed late last summer

Dreams, Diaspora, Destiny

This project, which wrapped up in late 2018, brought something entirely new to the world of mural arts in Philly—augmented reality. Download the free MuralArtsAR app and listen to an original score that’s paired with this West Philly mural, which is meant to start a conversation about the future of the neighborhood.

Still Life

Like “Portraits of Justice” (#10), this Brewerytown mural deals with issues in the criminal justice system, except this mural takes a more metaphorical (and hauntingly beautiful) look at the system with a traditional still life painting. It’s meant to reflect the freezing of time that comes with incarceration.

“Still Life invites viewers to slow down and contemplate temporality, incarceration, and freedom, while challenging mainstream ideas about who gets to make and experience fine art,” Mural Arts writes.

Ed Bradley

60 Minutes correspondant Ed Bradley was a Philly native, and the first black television correspondant to cover the White House, so it’s no surprise his home neighborhood of West Philly wants to honor him. Sadly, Bradley died in 2006, but his stunning journalism legacy—marked by awards and international reporting—made him a clear candidate for a hometown mural.

Rippling Moon

Mural Arts contributor Meg Saligman (of the “Bird Feed” fame) painted this mural on the side of the Children’s Crisis Treatment Center, representing both trauma and resilience.

Legacy

With this mural, which looks like a tapestry, artists ask, “how do we create our own cultural identities?” Students in the Artrepreneurs program examined uniforms and textiles, “through the lens of global inclusivity and the stories of African immigrants in the West Philadelphia community,” with a project that culminated in this stunning and detailed piece, according to Mural Arts

Water Gives Life

A beautiful and vibrant painting in the heart of the city, this mural examines the connection between plants, wildlife, and water. It’s meant to open up discussions about sustainability in the midst of an urban landscape.

Portraits of Justice

There are several murals around the city dealing with the criminal justice system, but this one really made a splash when it premiered during Mural Arts Month in November. It’s part of a larger initiative that looks at ways to combat prison overpopulation and reform the criminal justice system.

“The initiative engages the public in reimagining the criminal justice system through the lens of art, advocacy and policy reform,” Mural Arts wrote. Read more about the program here.

Octavius Catto

Octavius Catto is an incredibly important historic figure in Philly. In the mid-to-late 1800s, he pushed for voting rights for black citizens, he worked closely with Frederick Douglass, and fought (and won) to desegregate Philly’s public trolleys. He was assassinated in 1871 at just 32 years old, but has since become one of the most prominent figures in the history of Civil Rights in Philly. This mural, which follows a memorial statue erected at City Hall in 2017, went up in Catto’s old South Philly neighborhood in late 2017.

‘Migrating Home’

‘Migrating Home’ by artist Shira Walinsky adorns a rowhome at 10th and Dickinson and is an homage to the many cultures and communities that call South Philly home. One look at the mural shows the many nods to various to the countries from which residents have migrated.

Philly Special

To anyone outside of Philly this may not seem “powerful” (or even make much sense) but to Eagles fans, it means a lot. It’s a recreation of the play that won the underdog team their first Super Bowl, and it’s a reminder of the grit, hope, and Philly pride that came with the final game. Plus, as a city, we love our Eagles murals.