About the Project
The result of numerous community meetings in North Philadelphia neighborhoods over 2019-2020, these three essential underpasses are being converted into beautiful works of art and being made safer for commuters in the process. The designs are reflective of the strength and resilience of surrounding communities and “accomplishing together what we cannot do alone.” The pieces also pay homage the complexity and beauty of the community, portrayed in bright, abundant colors and botanical themes.
Norris Street Underpass
History in the Present Moment (Their Crowns Like Light Beams) designed by muralists Patrick Dougher and Josh Sarantitis calls attention to the divine nobility, royalty and spirituality of the local community. The South wall uses color, design and texture to speak to the complexity and beauty of the community and the traditions of the African diaspora, showcasing bright colors and bold festive designs. The North wall represents the royal procession of the present moment. “In the here and the now we are divine whole beings. In bold dignity we stand upright together in unity. We are whole as individuals and a community. Accomplishing together what we cannot do alone we each continue the whole spirit and soul of the community.” Poems included in the design were also inspired by the “royalty” and beauty of the community members. The “Hood Haikus” were written specifically for the mural design and were contributed by Philadelphia poet Ursula Rucker.
Diamond Street Underpass
Diamonds in the Rough designed by Andrea Legge of the design firm Legge Lewis Legge was directly inspired by the theme of ‘youth and family’ and by conversation with community members, in particular, two statements: “We are diamonds in the rough,” and “It takes pressure to make a diamond”. The design references an eight-step ‘community building’ plan focusing on the principles of family, spirituality, school and community. Each theme is illustrated on a different wall of the Diamond/10th Street underpass.
Untitled by Priscilla Bell and Anthony Torcasio is focused on community, abundance and growth aimed to portray the pivotal strengths that exist with the community. Images include a background of botanical images overlaid with people and buildings. The design incorporates elements that are specific to the neighborhood, such as specific row homes and sunflowers that grow at a neighboring community garden in the summer.
Division of Housing and Community Development