Walking in the Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens reminded me of a toy I used to have when I was younger: a kaleidoscope. It’s the best word I can think of, besides “wow” that can give you an accurate idea of what it is like. Tiles, mirrors, patterns, bicycle wheels, empty glass bottles, china plates, and more tiles everywhere you look. From wall to ceiling, literally, even the bathroom has not been left untouched. It is absolutely fantastic!
The artist, Isaiah Zagar, and his wife, Julia, have devoted themselves to beautifying the South Street neighborhood since the late 1960’s. I’d say they certainly achieved their goal. You’ll notice the Zagar’s touch on many buildings while you are strolling up & down South Street.
It took Isaiah 14 years to complete his vision of the Magic Gardens. He started in 1994 with a vacant lot and proceeded to excavate tunnels and grottos, sculpting multi-layered walls and tiling the 3,000 square foot space. Today it includes a fully mosaicked indoor gallery and an outdoor, also fully mosaicked, labyrinth. Just be careful if you happen to visit on a rainy or snowy day, as the tiled stairs can prove to be slippery when wet.
The Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is now a permanent art institution and open to visitors (at the very low cost of $5.00 per adult!) throughout the year. They also offer mosaic workshops, host concerts, and other public events.
The Magic Gardens is definitely a “one of kind” place. You must add it to your Philly visit. Hopefully, you’ll be as amazed, enchanted and charmed as I was.