Philadelphia: The City of Murals

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Jack Ramsdale for Mural Arts Program (c) City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program
One example of the vibrant murals in Philly: "Common Threads" by Meg Saligman completed 1997 Broad & Spring Garden Streets

On the buildings along the Schuylkill River, vibrant murals welcome visitors into Philadelphia. They've been peeking out from underneath bridges and along cement walls since 1984, when the city established the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network, to redirect graffiti artists' energies toward enhancing their community. Over time, the nation's largest mural effort, the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, sprung up.

Now, in collaboration with local photographer Jacques-Jean "JJ" Tiziou, the mural has been elevated to an all-new level—seven-stories high. At Philly's airport, a nearly 50,000-square-foot piece will cover one side of the parking garage stretching from Terminal A to Terminal F, with roughly 18 images of community dancers narrowed down from thousands. The City of Brotherly Love has a history of dance, and JJ Tiziou has been right alongside the movement to document it. The project will employ 35 artists and take 18 months to complete before its final dedication in June 2011. The energy of the design, entitled How Philly Moves, will be palpable at 60 MPH while driving past it on Interstate 95, and it will be clear why Philadelphia could as easily earn a new nickname—the City of Murals.

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