Rizzo’s giant visage disappears from Market, for now

    A mural of the storied mayor of the 1970s had been painted directly onto stucco, which was crumbling off the wall. The wall is now covered with new stucco, and the artist who originally painted the mural in 1995 will re-create the same image.

    A South Philadelphia icon has been erased, temporarily. A huge mural of former mayor Frank Rizzo had been looming over the Italian Market for 15 years. This week his image got covered with stucco. The removal is the first step in a restoration process.

    For two years, Manuel Hernandez has been selling fruits and vegetables across the street from the formidable image of Frank Rizzo.

    “I don’t know who is this guy. I don’t know,” Hernandez said.

    A mural of the storied mayor of the 1970s had been painted directly onto stucco, which was crumbling off the wall. The wall is now covered with new stucco, and the artist who originally painted the mural in 1995 will re-create the same image.

    The neighborhood has changed a lot in the last 15 years, and shop owner Herta Ginsburgs says the gigantic image of Frank Rizzo has taken on a life of its own. She says people visited the Italian Market just to take pictures of the mural.

    “Half of them, I know, do not know who he is,” she said. “‘Who is this guy?’ ‘He was the mayor.’ But that doesn’t describe who this man is. In order to understand that, you have to understand South Philadelphia, which is a world apart from other worlds.”

    Although she doesn’t agree with Rizzo’s politics, Ginsburgs says many South Philadelphians think he’d be able to rescue the city from its current problems. Rizzo died in 1991.

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