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News > Club News > "History of Chinatown Mural" (ASIAN ARCHITECTS / DESIGNERS / ARTISTS OF PHILLY)

"History of Chinatown Mural" (ASIAN ARCHITECTS / DESIGNERS / ARTISTS OF PHILLY)

"History of Chinatown Mural" (ASIAN ARCHITECTS / DESIGNERS / ARTISTS OF PHILLY)
1 Jul 2022
Written by Sophia Lee
Club News
History of Chinatown Mural - photo by Lisa Kim
History of Chinatown Mural - photo by Lisa Kim

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Urban Design

This story is part of a series featuring Asian Architects / Designers / Artists of Philly. We will be highlighting incredible murals that are a part of Mural Arts Philadelphia, urban street art that is part of Philadelphia Museum of Art's collection or other collections, urban spaces that embody Asian culture, and buildings designed by some of the most renowned architects from around the world. We will be featuring short blog posts written by members of Urban Design Committee, as well as guest posts by Committee on the Environment, Environmental Justice subcommittee. Stay tuned for more!

Created by four artists, Arturo Ho, Giz, N. Phung, and H. Tran (1), the mural sits at Tenth and Winter Street. One can take a full view of the mural on the diagonal corner by the open space with the Chinese pagoda and fish street art. This mural was painted in protest to the Vine Expressway that ultimately divided the Chinese neighborhood in the 1960s. The traditional businesses and restaurants are located south of the expressway while some living communities and religious institutions are located on the north side. It was also commissioned to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Chinatown in Philadelphia. It was part of an effort to Save Chinatown during the redevelopment years which was potentially slated a baseball stadium in the neighborhood as well.

This mural is one of the many gems of Philadelphia. The "History of Chinatown" Mural is rich with symbolic imagery capturing the struggle and values of the Chinese community. The mural captures the spirit of immigrant laborers as it depicts laundry and railroad workers. Chinese railway workers can be dated back to the late 1800s, while the laundry workers were more visible during the 1960s and 70s in lieu of the redevelopment protest (2). As the laundry water transforms into the highway which then turns into a book, it compositionally brings the mural together. The family sharing a cup of tea and the father and son reading over the book captures the family and educational value the Chinese community holds dear.

Blog post written by Jessica Kim, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Photo by Lisa Kim.

1. https://www.loc.gov/item/2019689264/

2. https://circapast.com/2012/08/27/murals-reclaiming-space-in-philadelphias-chinatown/

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