14 of the 3,500+ murals in Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA HAS BILLED itself as the “mural capital of the world.” This October, the city is celebrating its murals: “31 Days, 31 Ways: Art Ignites Change.” New murals will be dedicated throughout the month, and every Saturday in October, there will be free tours.

The Mural Arts Program started in 1984 as a way to combat graffiti. Jane Golden, a local muralist, helped bring in local artists to create the first pieces. From its start, the program has helped to commission over 3,500 works of art around the city, and it now sponsors art activities for those in local prisons as well as educational programs for at-risk youth. Golden has described the success behind the initiative with her mantra: “Art Saves Lives.”

Wander and find them on your own, or you can take a guided tour. There’s also the Mural Mile, a self-guided walking tour that features 17 murals along a 3 mile walking route.


Freedom School, 3032 Girard Avenue

Malcolm X, Ella Baker, Martin Luther King, and Frederick Douglass. Painted by Parris Stancell and sponsored by the Freedom School Mural Arts Program. Photo: Tony the Misfit


Sailing ship, 232 Federal Street

Tall ship painted by Robert Bullock and sponsored by the Dept. of Recreation. Photo: the bridge


Spring Garden Street Bridge

Designed by artist Jane Golden, the mural was painted by kids from the West Philadelphia neighborhood. Photo: pwbaker


Work in progress on a Love Letter, 4800 Market Street

Stephen Powers and the Mural Arts Program came up with the Love Letter series in 2009. It features 50 rooftop murals between 45th and 63rd Streets along Market Street. Photo: Ezra.Wolfe


#36 in the Love Letter series, 5101 Market Street

The Love Letter murals are best viewed from the Market-Frankford elevated transit line. Photo: shaggyshoo


I Love You, 17 S. 60th Street

The necklace in the Love Letter series is best seen traveling eastbound. Photo: shaggyshoo


Mapping Courage, 6th and South Streets

Created by Carl Willis Humphrey, the mural of W.E.B. Du Bois on the wall of Engine #11 was completed in 2008. Du Bois "a Harvard graduate in sociology, was asked to conduct a survey of blacks living in Philadelphia’s 7th Ward in 1896. It served as a basis for his 1899 paper, The Philadelphia Negro." Photo: CommandZed


Common Threads, Broad and Spring Garden

Painted by Meg Saligman in 1998, this mural is 8 stories tall and the Mural Arts Program is in process of raising money to clean and restore the mural. Photo: mikeg626


Legacy, 707 Chestnut Street

Created in part from Venetian tiles by Josh Sarantitis, it's two blocks from the Liberty Bell. Photo: glokbell


A Tribute to Dr. Herman Wrice, 34th Street and Spring Garden

Local heroes are featured in many of the murals. David McShane and Euhri Jones painted this mural of Dr. Herman Wrice, a community activist. Photo: aturkus


Philadelphia Muses, 1235 Locust Street

The Philadelphia Muses, completed in 1999, is another Meg Saligman piece. Photo: the bridge


Wilt Chamberlain, 13th and Vine

The mural by John Lewis featuring the Philadelphia-born basketball star is on the side of Frank's Place. Photo: Kevin Burkett


Colors of Light, 12th and Vine Streets

Near the edge of Chinatown, this is a close up of the half-block long mural by Joshua Sarantitis. Photo: Kevin Burkett


Hockey, Levick at Varnick

The Flyers play the Devils. Photo: techfun