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Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Philadelphia Mural Has Civil War Theme

Posted By on February 22, 2016

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The second mural in the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program is found on 8th Street between Chestnut Street and Market Streets in Philadelphia and has a Civil War theme.  It is painted on the west-facing wall on the side of a building behind a parking lot.

 

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According to the painted “plaque” in the lower right corner of the mural, it was designed and painted by Jared Bader.  Its title is “A People’s Progression Toward Equality.”

This is the second mural created by the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and the Philadelphia Mural Arts Advocates with funding from Lincoln Financial Group in honor of its 100th anniversary.

The mural explores the legacy of Abraham Lincoln and the abolition of slavery by presenting an allegory of the way African American culture has been woven into the fabric of American life and President Lincoln’s role in this process.  Light and shadow playing against the characters in the scene hints not only at the historical struggle for civil rights, but also the way in which Abraham Lincoln has been molded into a figurehead for civil rights issues.

Special thanks are given to the Parkway Corporation, 714 Holdings, LLP, Center City District, and the City of Philadelphia.  At the bottom of the plaque, the location of the first mural is given.

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A close-up of the portion of the mural showing Abraham Lincoln is shown above.

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The mural is set amid parking lots, an entrance to the subway concourse, a fast food restaurant, and other buildings, some of which have seen better days and are today either planned for new uses or could possibly be demolished for new construction.  The real estate is prime in Center City Philadelphia;  the location is between City Hall (at 13th Street), the Independence Historical Site (at 6th Street), and Market East (at 11th Street), now re-named Jefferson Station, a rail transportation center.  This could result in the loss of this mural at some point in the not so distant future.  The Mural Arts Program sponsors have long recognized that these works of art are for the present and that future uses of the sites could result in the covering or destruction of the murals.  This has happened in many cases as the city’s construction boom continues.

 

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It is only a matter of time before the parking lot in front of the mural is replaced with a high rise building – thus obscuring or destroying the mural.

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One of the original buildings on the parking lot site was the home of Siegmund Lubin (1851-1923) as is noted by the historical marker in view looking south on 8th Street.  Lubin is recognized as a motion picture pioneer and a famed movie mogul.  His optical shop was located here.

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Another building on the parking lot site was the studio of Robert Cornelius, a metallurgist and brass founder who opened a photographic studio 21 years before the Civil War, and who, with Paul Beck Goddard conducted experiments to reduce image exposure times making it possible to use the camera to create portraits.  The view is looking north on 8th Street and the multi-story older building on the left is on the north side of Market Street.  The building on the right is a two-story fast food restaurant.

For more information about the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, go to their web site.


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