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Mural Arts

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Big Reveal: See 'Waterways' at Unveiling Party, PLAY Manayunk

'Waterways' will be introduced May 14, followed by PLAY Manayunk on May 16.
'Waterways' will be introduced May 14, followed by PLAY Manayunk on May 16. Credit: Tiffany Ledesma

Those walking the streets of Manayunk have probably noticed a little extra pop of color in the neighborhood, and not just from the spring foliage. Since the first week of May, the folks over at sign&design have been busy working to install over 50 pieces of temporary street art designed by local artist Eurhi Jones for our Waterways project. Created through a partnership with Mural Arts, Waterways wanders from Pretzel Park in central Manayunk down Main Street and to Venice Island, which sits between the Manayunk Canal and the Schuylkill River. 

It’s one of the biggest street art installations ever for Mural Arts, and the whole project will be unveiled on Thursday, May 14, with a public celebration at 6 p.m. that includes a tour with the artist and free ice cream. According to Mural Arts, the installation should survive weather and traffic conditions for 3 to 4 months, so Waterways will be a highly visible part of the Manayunk experience throughout the summer.  

So, why is a public utility like Philadelphia Water working with Mural Arts? Waterways is our way of highlighting the importance of a healthy Schuylkill River–health that is greatly enhanced by our recent stormwater management improvements at the Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center.

Officially introduced in the fall of 2014, our renovations at Venice Island include a storage basin that can keep about 180 SEPTA buses worth – four million gallons – of untreated water from rushing into the Schuylkill during heavy rains. Other features include tree planters and a green roof to slow rainwater and a pump house that sends excess water from the basin to a treatment plant. All of that is good news for the shad, herons and crayfish featured in Waterways. It’s also good news for the many, many people who rely on a clean Schuylkill as their source for quality drinking water.

Now, people who see the artwork, which makes unique use of vinyl as a medium, can follow the steppingstones of Waterways through the neighborhood and to Venice Island and learn more about why this kind of infrastructure is so important for the health of our city and our waters. We're also hoping they’ll learn more about the amazing recreational amenities we brought to Venice Island with the help of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation.        

Speaking of recreation, Philadelphia Water will also be at the PLAY Manayunk festival on Saturday (May 16) as the Manayunk Development Corporation and others celebrate all the amazing exercise and play opportunities in the neighborhood with activities like an attempt to break the world record for group sit-ups. We will have a booth where people can learn more about Waterways and our work at Venice Island while doing fun water-related art projects with Mural Arts. PLAY Manaunk kicks off with a race at 8 a.m. and wraps up with the simultaneous sit-up challenge from 1-2 p.m. 

Other activities include nature hikes, yoga classes, kayak and dragon boat rides, dance lessons, old-school kid's games, crafts, food trucks, music, performances, and more.

We hope you’ll come out to one or both of these events and learn more about the great work we are doing to improve the health of your local waterways. 

If you’re in the neighborhood and like the art, take a photo and share it on social media with the hashtag #phillywaterart to see who else is enjoying Waterways!

For more on Waterways visit

Follow along on social media: @PhillyH20 on Twitter  and Instagram and

Big Green Block: Phase II Complete!

Philadelphia zip code 19125, known for the community’s dedication to sustainability, will celebrate the latest improvements to  the Big Green Block on Saturday, July 20th with an official ribbon cutting event. The Big Green Block is a large collaborative project between the New Kensington CDC, the Philadelphia Water Department, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and the Mural Arts Program.The first phase of theproject turned the Kensington School of Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) into a ‘green’ hub, becoming the first high school in the country to earn LEED platinum certification. Along with the school, Shissler Recreation Center has ball fields, a basketball court, tree trenches and rain gardens, all managing stormwater runoff and pollution. Additionally, phase two of the project has enhanced the site with a new spray park, dog park and more!

On July 20th From 11 a.m. to noon, the New Kensington CDC will honor and celebrate the collaboration with public tours of the site. If you are interested in learning about how you can manage stormwater at your own home, arrive early for a rain barrel workshop, hosted by the Climate and Urban Systems Partnership (CUSP), at 9 a.m. Meet for all at the Shissler Recreation Center, 1800 Blair Street. Note, the rain date for this event is July 21st.

For any questions or concerns, please contact Diana at NKCDC, 215-427-0350 x104 or

Imagining Frankford

This Saturday, the Frankford Community, from Pratt Street down to Kensington Avenue, will celebrate their neighborhood. Community members, in collaboration with the Mural Arts Program and initiated by Council Woman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, have designed and created beautiful murals along a historic and diverse stretch of the Frankford corridor. Originally serving as a trail from Philadelphia to New York, Frankford Avenue has served residents of Philadelphia for decades and will continue to do so into the future. Along-side the restorative murals, the Philadelphia Water Department has implemented an exemplary rain garden in Womrath Park to help divert stormwater and pollutants from the nearby Frankford Creek. In addition to beautiful native plants, the collaborative project has also helped to bring other park improvements  for residents to enjoy the benefits of the rain garden and park.

From 11am to 1pm this Saturday, the 29th, the Frankford community, the Philadelphia Water Department and the Mural Arts Program will showcase and celebrate the neighborhood they have helped to further develop.  The day will include dedication of the murals by Mural Arts Director Jane Golden and muralist Cesar Viveros. The Water Department will host tours of the area as well as provide educational activities for children and families. Please RSVP for the event here

Read more about the Imaging Frankford Project.

Watch community members tell their stories of Frankford

The Story of Water - Through Art

Had you been on the 300 block of Christian Street on Saturday afternoon, you might have asked yourself, “What are these blue dots all over the street? Is this graffiti?” You may have walked along the dots down the street - to the Delaware River -looked out across to New Jersey and thought, “This is beautiful, but why I am here?” If you had looked down below you, you may have noticed an outfall, spewing excess rainwater from the streets. However, this is the very end of our story, a story that starts miles away, only to end right below your very feet.

The Mural Arts Program and the Philadelphia Water Department have joined forces to help Philadelphia residents recognize the importance of the water cycle in Philadelphia and they’re doing it through a language everyone understands – art. With the help of environmental artist and sculptor, Stacy Levy, a simple but effective design was created and Saturday marked the first day of installation. With the help of neighbors and friends from The Courts residential community, we traced, cut, painted and even heated (with an intense propane torch) blue dots to the sidewalk and streets. The dots represent water and the design is intended to demonstrate  how water flows over streets and other impermeable surfaces to the inlets, as well as the journey this water takes from the inlets to the Delaware River. Follow the dots downstream and you’ll find yourself facing the Delaware River. The very place a majority of our stormwater runoff ends up.

So the next time you’re near 3rd and Christian Streets (in front of the beautiful Southwark Garden), search the sidewalk for the blue water dots and remember how the story of your water ends.

Learn more about the story of stormwater here.

To see photos from the installation, visit the Water Department’s Flickr.

Community Art Day - Help Us Create A Lasting Impression!

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This Saturday, June 1st, The Philadelphia Water Department, in partnership with Mural Arts, will host a community art making day in Queen Village at Christian and 3rd Streets. Stacy Levy, renowned environmental artist and sculptor  plans to coordinate the creation of a project highlighting the ways in which water travels under our streets and into the rivers and streams. Community members are encouraged to attend and to help create this one-of-a-kind piece of art work.The plan is to heat and adhere thermoplastic dots of various sizes to the asphalt on the road to create a unique, “water-esque” pattern. The display is expected to last up two years and will be a continuing reminder of the importance of water in Philadelphia. No pre-registration is required. Food, music and other activities will be available for all ages! For more information contact Shari at or 267-972-3934.

Rain Art: Queen Village Workshop with Stacy Levy

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 Photo credit: Stacey Levy

Join the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and the Philadelphia Water Department on Saturday May 18th from 10:00am-3:30pm for a design workshop with renowned environmental artist, Stacy Levy, at the Shot Tower Playground in Queen Village.

During the workshop, we'll brainstorm ways to depict the passage of water through our City and explore the hidden streams of Philadelphia.  We'll look into questions like: Where does the rain go? Where are the historic creeks that once flowed through the neighborhood? Where does the water flow under our streets? Using unconventional art-making materials we'll visualize how water flows beneath our streets, and generate ideas for an upcoming temporary RAIN ART installation. The RAIN ART installation will be made during a Community Art-Making Day on Saturday, June 1.
Registration is required. Refreshments will be provided. Children 14 years of age or older are welcome and must be accompanied by an adult. Space is limited, so reserve your spot today!

Children 14 years of age or older are welcome, children must be accompanied by a parent. Space is limited, reserve your spot today!
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