Residents take in murals of Northwest Philadelphia during trolley tour

The “It’s all about community!” mural on the side of 6533 Germantown Ave. in Mt. Airy promotes unity via a neighborhood scene with residents of all shapes and sizes.

The “Women of Germantown” mural on the side of the Germantown YWCA celebrates empowerment using images of local figures who fought against racism.

The pieces of outdoor artwork were just two of the murals featured during the Northwest Philadelphia Trolley Tour held over the weekend.

The Saturday morning event, hosted by the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, first transported about 20 passengers to Chestnut Hill to take in “Wissahickon Crossing,” a recently dedicated mural on the side of Bredenbeck’s Bakery on Germantown Avenue. The tour then headed south, making its way through Mt. Airy and Germantown.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“There were a few things new to me even though we’ve lived here a long time,” said Sue Moore, who has been on almost every tour offered by Mural Arts.

“I’m very impressed by the diversity,” said Sy Meyers.

In all, the trolley stopped by some two dozen murals covering a wide range of subjects including the Revolutionary War, local efforts to abolish slavery and religious equality.

All of the murals, however, were the result of neighborhood collaboration.

Residents were not only part of design discussions, but physically helped bring ideas to life during community paint days.

The “It’s all about community!” mural, for example, is the result of the community, the city’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services and Mural Arts coming together.

The mural, dedicated in 2009, depicts people with and without developmental and intellectual disabilities coming together in the community.

For the past five years, Ken Weinstein, a private developer and owner of the Trolley Car Diner in Mt. Airy, has been trying to get a mural tour organized in Northwest Philadelphia.

When he first approached Mural Arts staff, he learned the area didn’t have enough murals to create a tour. So, Weinstein got to work, facilitating the process of getting more murals up, often on buildings he owned.

Such is the case at the diner, where artist Jonathan Laidacker painted “Doo-wop Diner.”

The mural celebrates the groups who used to sing along the Avenue, such as the Neighborhood Complaints. It also features members of the community, including Weinstein and his son Evan.

“To me, murals in Northwest Philly are here for purposes of economic development,” said Weinstein.

Weinstein noted that tours like the one held Saturday give people another reason to visit the community, get a sense of its history, and shop in its stores.


Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal