Postcard: Philadelphia

Most cities view graffiti artists as criminals. Here they became artists, bringing a measure of pride and peace to troubled streets. Welcome to the world's mural capital

Jack Ramsdale

'Reaching for a Star'
Artist: Don Gensler
William Hodges, who lives in the house upon which the mural is painted, says: "That mural is the best thing that's happened around here. For 20 years, this neighborhood's been going down, but when they came and put that mural up there on the wall, it stopped it from going down."

One good thing about being stuck in a traffic jam in Philadelphia is that there's a fine chance you can spend your time looking at a mural. There are over 2,500 murals throughout the city--more than in any other place in the world. On South 47th Street, a lush mural shows a row-house scene in the foreground with Van Gogh's Starry Night--inspired sky as a backdrop. Gigantic, stunning portraits of Dr. J and Malcolm X grace other buildings. Prince Charles visited the mural on 40th and Pennsgrove in January to see the outsize rendering of a girl reading a book that...

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