I always enjoy visiting Philadelphia. I’ll always be a sucker for East Coast cities with great history, compact layouts, historical architecture, and somewhat acceptable public transportation. I first visited Philly back when I was in middle school on a school trip and I haven’t really been back since. I get sent to Philly to overnight all the time for work but since we stay in the middle of nowhere near the airport, I’ve never really taken time to go downtown. But ever since the Philadelphia Magic Gardens caught my eye, I’ve been looking for a daytime Philly layover so I can go downtown to see it.
In early October I worked a 4-day trip with a 14 hour Philly layover. Fourteen hours isn’t actually a lot of time considering we get in around 2:00 pm and by the time you go to the hotel to change, take the shuttle back to the airport, and take the train to Center City, it’s almost 4:00 pm. But I managed to hurry over to the Magic Gardens and had plenty of time to see it before it closed at 6:00.
The Magic Gardens are essentially a piece of outdoor urban artwork located on South Street. South Street was originally an empty, desolate area when artist Isaiah Zagar came across it and decided to beautify it. He began making mosaic murals along the streets out of scraps of glass, tile, ceramic, glass bottles, bike wheels, and various other miscellaneous items. The area of South Street that Zagar transformed is considered an artistic haven and the Magic Gardens are now a non-profit organization used to preserve the artwork.
Wandering the Magic Gardens is like getting lost inside an urban fairytale forest of clay, tile, and glass. The gardens are such a unique blend of natural and manmade materials. The mosaic murals are like a long, unending puzzle that stretch and wind into tunnels and up staircases. They’re all connected to each other but each mosaic is different. There are even hidden messages dotted throughout that Zagar tiled together carefully, encouraging creativity, inspiration, passion, and dreams.
The Magic Gardens are a unique, whimsical take on transforming urban landscapes and scrap material into artwork. I highly recommend visiting when in Philadelphia.
I wish I could have stayed downtown a little longer and tried some local food, but unfortunately I wasn’t feeling well so I took the train back shortly after finishing touring the Magic Gardens. I’m looking forward to visiting Philly for a longer trip in the future.