Adam Goldin | Philadelphia Blog

Adam Goldin covers Philadelphia news and updates.

Tag: outdoor

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Art on the Outside: Philly’s Murals

Though Philadelphia contains one of the more renowned art museums in the world, there’s only one way to see art and the city at the same time: the street art.

From the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, to artist Isaiah Zagar mosaic-tiling every wall he can get his hands on, to world-class graffiti and street art, nearly every street in Philadelphia is bound to have a surprise in store.

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The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program began in 1984 as an anti-graffiti program, and has created almost 4,000 murals since. From the recent color-blocking of Broad Street to Philadelphia On A Half-Tank, a mural painted on the side of an oil tank at the refinery in South Philly at Penrose Ave and 26th in 1999, there is an incredible amount of history in the program. Some works have been torn down or built over with time, but that is part of being in a living-breathing city. The majority of the murals with the project are not just for art’s sake, but also have a purpose. One of the project’s murals was painted on the side of a methadone clinic, and some over the 1,200 artists who helped to paint the mural were patients at the clinic at the time, as part of a rehabilitation program. The founder of the Mural Arts Program shared her top 10 favorite with The Guardian, and you can check them out here.

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One of the most unique ways to see murals in the city is to take a ride on the Market-Frankford elevated line. From 45th to 63rd streets, there are a total of 50 murals creating an experience called “Love Letters”. Some can be seen from the street, but not all, as they are meant to be seen from the train. Created by Philadelphia native Steve Powers, all 50 murals are love letters from a partner, from an ex, or from the residents to their city. Ranging from cutesy sentiment to powerful declarations, Love Letters from the El is an experience I highly recommend you make time for, even if you normally drive.

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Isaiah Zagar’s work is instantly recognizable to long-time residents of Philly. The Magic Garden, his multi-story maze-like art piece is the most famous of his work, particularly after a long-fought battle with the city to keep it. But you won’t just find his work in the Magic Garden, you can see his handiwork all over the city in the South Street/Queens Village area, particularly in alleyways. There are so many murals that they made a map to show them all.

Mural Locator is a website dedicated to pinpointing murals on maps all over the globe, and can help you find murals that aren’t part of the Mural Arts Project or Zagar’s body of work.

No matter if you are a long-time local or a brand new tourist, if you are on a unique-yet-romantic first date or looking for something to do with the kids on a nice day, there are endless ways of touring, viewing, and getting to know the wonderful art on the streets of Philadelphia.

Spring Festivals and Events in Philly

cherry blossom fairmont parkIt doesn’t matter if you are looking for a uniquely romantic date night or a relaxed family fun day, there are so many great things to do in Philadelphia in spring, and as the weather starts to warm up, there is no better way to shake off the chill and the cabin fever of winter than by getting out and enjoying some of the great events that this city has to offer.

Spruce Street Harbor Park. The Delaware River Waterfront has been amping up their game every year. We are going into the third year of the SSHP, and while I know it can get crowded in peak times, it is always worth the trip. Last year they stretched the length of the park further, and tied in more with the Roller Rink just around the point past the Seaport Museum. Though the specific details haven’t been released yet, they have always tried to expand the offerings. From horseshoes and shuffleboard to napping in a hammock fried chicken sandwiches from Federal Doughnuts and ice cream from Franklin Fountain, to a sandy beer, wine, and cocktail barge on the water for the grownups, it’s a spring afternoon that just can’t be beat. Last year they opened in May.

Chinese Lantern Festival. As part of the 10th birthday part of Franklin Square, Historic Philadelphia is putting on a great spring event starting in April and running until June. The small but charming square at 6th and Race will have the usual fare of the carousel and Philly-landmark mini-golf as well as Square Burger (for that Tastykake milkshake), but there will also be huge, illuminated lanterns, including a three-story-tall pagoda and a 200 foot long Chinese dragon. There will be craftspeople with small booths and will be creating edible sugar dragons, Chinese character painting of guest’s names, and more! There are entertainers at night when the lanterns are lit, including acrobats and balancing acts. The square is free during the day, but once the sun sets, the activities entertainment will come with a ticket price.

Fairmount Park’s Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival. Fashion shows, tours of the Shofuso Japanese Garden House, a samurai competition, Taiko drumming, dancing, karaoke, live music, Sakura Under the Stars, and more events all made an appearance at last year’s festival. And, of course, the cherry blossoms themselves, which are just as magical as any of the festivities put on at this wonderful spring festival.

Starting this month and running through September, the Franklin Institute will be hosting a “Science behind Pixar” event. From the math and engineering to the modeling and sound recording, dive into the world of Pixar with over 40 hands on displays, along with video of interviews with the creators of Pixar films. Try out modeling, set design, animation, and more at this event that everyone can enjoy. Don’t forget to walk through the giant heart on your way out, in true Franklin Institute tradition!

And don’t forget to celebrate warm weather the Philly way: with a street fair. The Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival, the South Street Spring Festival, and the 9th Street Italian Market Festival all happen about the same time every year. Each brings the unique personality of its neighborhood, with food, drinks, entertainment, music, and elbow-to-elbow people out into the sunshine every year. I recommend going early in the day if you are taking kids, as the crowds get rowdy after a day of sun and imbibing. If you’re looking for something more brainy, check out the Philadelphia Science Festival, which culminates every year with a street fair science carnival.

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