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Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

Artist Isaiah Zagar’s masterpiece on South Street

Magic Gardens

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens glisten with creativity, urban renaissance and a hint of madness. Credit: Photo by Visit Philadelphia

Description

Overview

Covering an indoor and outdoor space equivalent to half a city block, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens glisten with creativity, urban renaissance and a hint of madness.

Isaiah Zagar, a local artist who began tiling South Street in the 1960s and never stopped, constructed the space out of cement, bicycle spokes, bottles, ceramic shards and other artistic knick-knacks.

The tiled passages of the Magic Garden weave over- and underground — and, perhaps more than anything, through the mind of a dedicated and inspired artist.

Zagar has created more than 100 mosaics in Philadelphia, the majority of them along the South Street corridor. A walk around the neighborhood unveils not only the work of the artist, but also of a geographic renaissance.

Watch: Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens in “We Got You: Philly by Tarik” Video Series

Join Tarik “Black Thought” Trotter of the Legendary Roots Crew on a tour of Philly arts and culture, food, history, shopping and green spaces, including Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.

Click the link below to watch.

watch “we got you: Philly by tarik” video series

History

In the 1960s, a group of artists and entrepreneurs began renting derelict storefronts and recreating the South Street neighborhood. At the forefront of that movement was Isaiah Zagar.

In its early years, the Magic Gardens faced an uncertain future. Zagar began building the labyrinthine sculpture on land he didn’t own and, in 2004, the absentee landlord put it up for sale.

After a public outcry that resulted in an outpouring of community support and donations, the nonprofit organization Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens was formed to purchase and maintain the grounds.

Today, the Magic Garden complex is the gateway to both a moment in Philadelphia’s history — the South Street Renaissance — and the work of an extraordinary artist whose odyssey continues to be living, working and playing on Philadelphia’s South Street.

The Eye’s Gallery

You can see more of Isaiah’s incredible work at The Eye’s Gallery, a Mexican folk art shop owned by Isaiah’s wife, Julia.

In the six-block walk down to The Eye’s at 402 South Street, you’ll experience much of Isaiah’s artistic portfolio along the walls and sidewalks of his favorite neighborhood.

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