Fishtown Murals: North Philly’s Finest Street Art

A city known for its grit, it only seems natural that Philadelphia would be the global leader in street art. With over 4000 murals citywide, visitors don’t have to travel far to locate these urban canvases. The murals in Fishtown are particularly plentiful. It sometimes feels like every large wall in this artsy neighborhood is covered with something creative.

The Philly street art scene is thriving, and there are new additions all the time. We love exploring to find new pieces to enjoy. Here’s a look at some of the ingenious Fishtown murals.

Persistence 

Mural of a woman staring off in the distance.
Persistence is impossible to miss on Frankford Ave.

Visually striking and thought provoking, Persistence is our favorite mural in the area. It makes you wonder just what this woman in the red polka dot dress is looking at. An imagined portrait by artist Jason Andrew Turner, the subject’s creation was inspired by the oral history of women and families–many of them immigrants–who used the services of Lutheran Settlement House (LSH), on whose wall the work is painted. For over a century, LHS has provided social, advocacy, and educational services to those in need.

You Can Be Stronger Than Diabetes

Fish mural along the side of a building.
Drone photo of the mural shows how it takes up the entire block

Not many murals take up a whole block. But this Very Hungry Caterpillar-esque work of art does. While lighthearted in appearance, You Can Be Stronger Than Diabetes takes on the serious topic of juvenile diabetes. The mural was conceptualized by artist Kristin Groenveld and was painted with the help of volunteers who have juvenile diabetes in order to promote education and prevention. 

Rippling Moon

Large-scale street art of a girl looking at scenes from a dreamscape.
The mural’s northern wall depicts a backstage scene

It is almost impossible to spend time in the city without seeing the work of artist Meg Saligman. Her recognizable (and very large) murals grace walls across many neighborhoods. In Fishtown, her Rippling Moon is a two-part project on the north and south walls of Children’s Crisis Treatment Center.

Large-scale mural with flowers, birds, and people in a boat.
The southern wall of Rippling Moon shows the front of the stage

The colorful piece has a serious theme, showing how the treatment center supports kids in working through the challenges of childhood trauma. Together, the walls show a whimsical theatrical performance. The northern wall is a backstage scene where a girl gets help from multiple generations to set the stage for her life. The southern wall shows what the scene looks like from the front of the stage with flower-filled curtains and a glowing backdrop.

Monée

Mural of a young Black girl whose face is covered with images of famous Black women.
Monée, an homage to Black women

Nazeer Sabree is known for his striking portraits in which the subject’s face is covered by a collage of other images. This work, Monée, is dedicated to Black women who have influenced and inspired the artist. The mural was created as part of the Adult Swim Mural Project—a partnership between the public arts organization Living Walls Atlanta and the Adult Swim cable channel—to amplify the work Black artists.

Life is a Carousel

Pink and yellow carousel horses painted on building with initials KFN.
The carousel horses along Front Street

Just when you thought Kung Fu Necktie couldn’t get cooler, Evan Lovett painted carousel horses on its front wall. This hip music venue/bar is the perfect canvas for Lovett’s artwork. After creating this piece, the artist posted the following quote to his Instagram when talking about the mural: “Life is a carousel. It goes up and down. All U gotta do is just stay on.” -Pharrell Williams

Entanglement 

Black and white mural of people with phrases of social consciousness and political action included.
The Entanglement mural along Shackamaxon Street

An ode to the memorable contributions to the COVID lexicon, Entanglement captures the complexity of today’s world in black and white. In the words of the artist, Nilé Livingston, “this assemblage of moments encourages us to stop and consider the significance and implications of these lived experiences in all of their involvedness…This mural is a continuum of human experience.”

Front Street Walls

Two vertical murals showing a woman's face and an antique-style scuba diving helmet on a brick wall.
Two of the artistic contributions to Front Street

Located underneath the Market/Frankford Line, the Front Street Walls feature a rotating collection of murals with the goal of brightening up this corridor. The walls also serve as an outlet for many street artists to submit designs and legally display their work on a large, urban canvas. This unique gallery changes yearly, featuring artists who are either experienced veterans of the urban mural scene or are displaying their work on this scale for the first time. The current works are all by artists from Philadelphia.

Fillmore murals

Four murals along a brick wall.
Murals at The Fillmore/Brooklyn Bowl

The side of The Fillmore is covered with four music-inspired murals created by artists from The Philadelphia Fellowship for Black Artists. This was the first public mural for each of them.

From left to right, the works are: | BACK TO BACK | SIDE TO SIDE | EAR TO EAR | by Kita Rich, The Rhythm of Philadelphia by Dyymond Whipper-Young, Just Like Music by Faysal Adger, and What’s the Next Move? by Jaz Morse. We particularly like The Rhythm of Philadelphia because it’s interactive—if you use the QR code, you get a playlist of songs produced by Philadelphia International Records plus songs that have sampled the The Sound Of Philadelphia.

Matriarchy

Mural including a modern woman, an ancient Greek statue of a woman, snow geese, and flowers.
Matriarchy by Magdalena Rieders

Magdalena Rieders includes a mix of the ancient and modern in her work Matriarchy, as she does in many of her large-scale projects. The white snow geese were added in honor of her grandmother after she encountered a flock glistening like diamonds in the sky on the day after the family matriarch passed away.

Salsa Shines Through

Mural showing people dancing.
The vibrant Salsa Shines Through

The bright and energetic Salsa Shines Through was created to add joy in the tough times of the pandemic. Unveiled in late 2021, the project celebrates happiness that comes from salsa dancing, especially in the time of social distancing. Despite its origins, nothing about the work is obviously related to the pandemic, so it remains a relevant and beautiful piece at Livewell Garden.

The mural was created by artist and dance instructor Andres Giraldo in partnership with artist Nathaniel Lee of Mural Arts as well as Estilo Dance Studio. In a unique move, Mural Arts invited dancers to submit themselves performing a beginner salsa routine as inspiration for the mural.

The Talented Mr. Trotter

The Talented Mr. Trotter on a massive canvas

With its massive size and bright colors, The Talented Mr. Trotter: You Can Be Anything stopped me cold the first time I saw it while walking down American Street. The attention-getting piece honors Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, a founder of the jazzy hip hop band The Roots and a Philadelphia native.

At four stories high, the work is impossible to miss. Conceived by artist Roberto Lugo, the art shows Trotter’s likeness on a gilded porcelain vase of the kind once made for royalty. Fittingly enough, it is located on the side of the Clay Studio.

Murals of the neighborhood’s past

In a neighborhood that is evolving as quickly as Fishtown is, murals don’t last forever. Whether for construction, building ownership, or other reasons, these works no longer exist. We’re including them here because they were local favorites and part of the area’s tapestry.

Welcome to Fishtown

Mural saying "Welcome to Fishtown" with cats draped over the words.
Cat-themed masterpiece

This feline-filled mural by VURT (Visual Urban Renewal & Transformation) once welcomed Fishtown travelers with a nod to its fish-centric name. The work, which was done by VURT’s Evan Lovett in collaboration with Glossblack, was located adjacent to Barcade.

No Borders

Mural of woman's face with butterflies around her head.
No Borders was on Front Street

No Borders by Molly Crabapple has been covered by new development at Front and Oxford. The piece was a commentary on immigration using butterflies as a reminder that borders are a human construct. 

Matisse Thybulle

Mural of basketball player Matisse Thybulle with arms outstretched.
The homage to Thybulle

For several years, the side of Garage was graced by this mural honoring Philadelphia 76ers player Matisse Thybulle. Painted by artist Glossblack, it was part of a partnership between Red Bull and the 76ers. When Thybulle was traded, he signed the mural, but it was defaced in a matter of days. Garage then painted over it.

How to Get To Fishtown:

SEPTA’s Market-Frankford Line runs through Fishtown. Get off at Girard Avenue to access the heart of the neighborhood. Fishtown is also accessible by bus, the Route 15 trolley and by car.

The murals are just one of the many things to see and do in Fishtown. Why not check out some of the others?

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