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June 25, 2023

Philadelphia voted best city for street art by USA Today readers

The award honors the city's many murals, sculptures and art installations

Arts & Culture Street Art
philadelphia street art K. Kelly/VISIT PHILADELPHIA

Philadelphia has been voted 'Best City for Street Art' in the latest USA TODAY Readers’ Choice Awards contest. Above, public murals can be seen beneath the SEPTA Market-Frankford El rail line.

The City of Brotherly Love is known and loved for many things, from cheesesteaks to Gritty, but one of its most well-known features is its vast gallery of public art.

Philadelphia has been voted “Best City for Street Art” in the 2023 USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards contest, the publication revealed on Friday. The award honors Philly's massive number of murals, sculptures and other public art installations.

MORE: Philly's first Juneteenth mural to be unveiled near historic Underground Railroad stop

The city was nominated for the accolade by a panel of experts, before the public had a chance to vote. Philly beat out nine competitors, including Miami, Houston, Denver and Atlanta. This latest victory closely follows Philadelphia's recent USA Today "most walkable city in the U.S." title.

“Philadelphia’s vibrant street art scene quite literally paints a picture of our great city’s diverse people, history and culture, bringing its rich stories to life in a visually intriguing way,” Angela Val, president and CEO of Visit Philadelphia, said. “This recognition is a tremendous moment to celebrate our public art, the artists who create it, and shine a light on the broad range of art experiences visitors and residents can have in Philadelphia.”

Not only does Philly have a vast collection of street art, but it is also a trailblazer in the public art space. In 1959, Philadelphia launched the country's first Percent for Art program, which requires new construction or large renovation projects to devote 1 percent of the total budget to including site-specific public art.

Mural Arts Philadelphia, the nation's largest public art program, is responsible for much of the street art across the city that has earned it the nickname, "Mural Capital of the World.” The organization, which was founded in 1984 to empower professional artists to showcase their talents, has led to the creation more than 4,000 pieces of art across Philly. Mural Arts was spotlighted in an episode of "Abbott Elementary" that aired in March.

While some of Philly's most recognizable pieces include the LOVE sculpture and the Rocky statue, public art is continuously being commissioned and added across the city. 

Some recent additions to the city's public art scene include a Taylor Swift mural on South Street, new sculptures along Kelly Drive, a John Legend mural in Northern Liberties, a domed sculptural art installation at the Navy Yard and Philly's first Juneteenth mural in Historic Germantown. The first large-scale, publicly-commissioned mural dedicated to the Holocaust in the U.S. will soon be added to Philly's Holocaust monument on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. 

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