Art is its most powerful when it evinces beauty and meaning. Songs like “Imagine” by John Lennon, or the more recent “Glory” by John Legend use their platform and artistry to send a message of peace in a world full of tensions. Similarly, graffiti that calls out current politics or simply portrays an image of love has the power to bring understanding to disparate communities. However, one place that I did not expect to find this kind of powerful art was in architecture.
As I headed to the first day of my internship and stumbled upon Philadelphia’s not-so-hidden treasure, Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Logan Square, I was taken aback by the beauty that I had so recklessly looked over during my first year at Penn. This section of winding streets connects old judiciary buildings with newly renovated community centers and ties it all together using flags from across the globe.
This showing of global solidarity may not be reflexive of our current culture, but it is indicative of the world that we strive for. This neighborhood, perched on the edge of Center City, is a hodgepodge of people from all over the world. The tourists that are attracted to the area for its historicism mix with local Philadelphians who are simply waiting for the bus.
In an impressive and unlikely showing, this neighborhood’s culture and people reflect it’s architecture in a way that gave me hope — for Philadelphia, for art in general, and maybe even for the United States as a whole.