What you see is the culmination of one man’s work over the course of 15 years now named the Philadelphia Magic Gardens.
From their website:
“[Isaiah] Zagar started working on the Magic Gardens in 1994 in the vacant lot nearby his studio. He began by constructing a massive fence to protect the area from harm and then spent the next fourteen years excavating tunnels and grottos, sculpting multi-layered walls, and tiling and grouting the 3,000 square foot space. The installation pays tribute to Zagar’s many artistic influences, as well as the events and experiences of his life. Enveloped in visual anecdotes, the mosaicked walls refer to his wife Julia and sons Ezekiel and Jeremiah through playful images and words, but also reference important elements of the wider world. Las Pozas and Day of the Dead, the dance community of Philadelphia, and even the airplanes of the nationwide 9/11 tragedy.
In 2002, the Boston-based owner of the once-vacant lot located at 1022-1026 South Street decided to sell the land in response to rising South Street property values. Unwilling to witness the destruction of Zagar’s neighborhood art environment, the community rushed to support the artist. His creation, newly titled Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, became incorporated as a nonprofit organization with the intention of preserving and promoting Zagar’s works at the site of the Magic Gardens and throughout the South Street region.
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is now a permanent art institution that is open to visitors throughout the year. Trained guides are available to lead tours of the Magic Gardens and Zagar’s surrounding public murals. In addition, PMG offers monthly mosaic workshops led by Zagar himself, and regularly hosts concerts, dance performances, and other public events.”
This is just another amazing unique piece of Philadelphia’s rich cultural history. I love this city.
You’ll see my kids in quite a few of these, they just love this place. I do need to go back solo at one point so I can really take my time and take it all in instead of using my energies to keep tabs on the kids in this labyrinth.