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Bits of blue, red and yellow colored glass cuts into odd shapes and formations, as creatively painted murals liven up murky walls in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The usually boring, nondescript walls lining Philly’s alleyways reflect years of wear and tear (as well as aging proof of questionable activity in these desolate-looking narrow spaces). But throughout the city, many such walls have been transformed into bright, lively murals and impressive mosaics that tell stories of its people’s history, accomplishments, trials of life.

After eating a delicious Philly cheesesteak at Jim’s in South Philly, I spotted my first of many murals and mosaics. An intriguing design on Kater Street shows a multi-dimensional man with faces, hats, body figures and scrabbled lettering. Colors bright and cheerful with a diversity of materials gave the impression of a neighborhood full of moving people. Continuing through the city, I found hundreds of murals telling stories about the Philadelphia community with expressive, hand-painted scenes and portraits.

I remember as a young child seeing art murals along the busy Los Angeles freeways, but that artwork is disappearing as time marches on. Philadelphia’s wall art, in rough neighborhoods and swanky upscale parking lots alike, is worth a visit.

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