Feb 14, 2013

Love is in the Air: The Love Train Tour

by: Latanya Vicks

Graffiti Boy meets girl. Girl has their child. Boy gets in some trouble and goes away. Boy returns only to find girl won’t take him back unless he gets his act together. Boy shapes up and leaves her love notes along her daily commute…Girl takes him back!” – A Love Letter For You (film) by Joey Garfield

February 10, 2013 marked the 4th annual Valentine’s Day edition of the Love Traintour. A series of 50 hand-painted signs by Stephen “ESPO” Powers sprawled across the cityscape of Market Street in West Philadelphia, A Love letter For You is a story about a great love undeterred by distance and time.

This utterly romantic tale was celebrated by people who love each other, who love Philadelphia, and who love public art. After mingling to tunes provided by radio partner Wired 96.5, patrons hopped aboard a private SEPTA Elevated Train (Blue Line) for a five-mile-an-hour jaunt to see the signs up close and personal. The tour, narrated by Powers himself, paid homage to local graffiti artists and is Mural Arts largest spray paint-based project. Afterwards, SEPTA’s headquarters was all the rage with food, fun, and giveaways from Wired 96.5 and Steve Tingle, who brought along his “Singles Looking to Mingle with Tingle” crew for the fun Sunday affair.

As a lifelong resident of West Philly, it was uplifting to see my neighborhood from a fresh perspective. Powers’ love notes brighten up a community that hasn’t fully recovered from the devastation of the ten-year El renovation. What struck me the most was how Powers integrated the designs so seamlessly with the buildings they grace, from the safe on the side of Citizens Bank to the “Eggs over Easy” atop Conquerors Café.

You may have seen this project hundreds of times while riding the El, but you can only discover the stories behind the walls by taking a Love Letter tour. Which famous celebrity’s name is spelled out in refrigerator magnet letters in the “If you were here I’d be home now” mural? Why was the mural taken down from the Enterprise Center? How many new signs were added to the project this year? Which celebrity’s arm graces the wall of the former JR’s Tattoo shop?

The tour makes you fall in love with West Philly in a way you’d never imagine; however, it’s a fleeting love because the images were not created using typical mural paint, making their shelf life unpredictable.

So, if you want to share the love before it’s gone, take a tour by visiting

Last updated: Jan 27, 2016

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