Underneath an Amtrak bridge spanning North Broad Street in Philadelphia, a mural called “Father’s Day” feature 17 African-American father figures, including Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.
Most are hard to identify, some nearly impossible. But a few stand out.
“Bill Cosby, Martin Luther King,” said neighborhood resident Ian Ryan, 15, who stopped to look. “Malcolm X, I see down there.”
Ian and the mural grew up together. Both were born in 2000.
“It’s something I like to look at. Murals are always nice to see,” said Ian.
Unlike Ian, the mural has come to the end of its life. Water seepage from the railroad tracks above has caused severe damage. It has already been repaired once, in 2008.
That, coupled with the bad press Bill Cosby has been getting over sexual misconduct, has hastened the final removal – or the decommissioning — of this mural.
“The Mural Arts Program doesn’t do murals under bridges any more because it deteriorates too quickly,” said program spokeswoman Cari Feiler Bender. “This mural was already on the list, so we took the opportunity, with all the recent headlines, to move this mural up to the top of the list to examine for decommissioning.”
When and how this mural will be decommissioned have not yet been determined.
After gauging a neighborhood’s attachment to a particular mural, the program has been known to re-create a mural on a different wall. This particular mural was made in collaboration with the Father’s Day Rally Committee, which could not be reached for comment.