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Noam Chomsky Mural To Be Swallowed Up by Capitalism, Naturally

February 10, 2013


Sad news for mural lovers and Noam Chomsky enthusiasts alike: The construction at the corner of 19th street and Fairmount avenue, which is currently only slightly covering up Philly’s much-loved Noam Chomsky mural, is indeed a sign of the mural’s nearing departure from the Fairmount streetscape.

According to Plan Philly, the mural honoring one of Philly’s – and the world’s – finest thinkers will soon be covered up by 15 new rental apartments, seven parking spaces, and “some type of food retail space.”

And while at least one other beloved Philly mural saw its neighborhood fight development from blocking and/or destroying it, in this case it so far appears that the Chomsky mural is inspiring much less fanfare. Although plenty of people have taken to Twitter to share their sadness about the planned cover up, and some have even reached out to me to weigh in.

Personally, I think that neighborhood development would have to be the obvious priority. Street art by nature has a relatively short shelf life, and there’s no real great reason why a mural should hold up building homes/restaurants/etc. Especially not considering that Philly has PLENTY of other walls to paint up and plenty more great artists to do so. That said, I do hope that another Chomsky mural can and will be created somewhere else in the city.

What do you all think?

UPDATE: According to a few of you on Twitter and Instagram, at least some people in the neighborhood are, in fact, fairly annoyed with this planned development. One commenter on Instagram even saying:

“A park is sorely needed there. Residents are not happy with this development. There’s a lot more to this story.” -@paperweightds

Feel free to comment, if you know more… I wonder what people’s concerns are with the development?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2013 11:28 pm

    If it’s for real progress — a development that improves the area — it’s a necessary evil. If they could leave some space there so that you could walk up close and still see it, that would be a good thing but I suspect it’s not designed that way.

    • ambiguator permalink
      February 13, 2013 3:13 pm

      Who is the arbiter of “real progress”?
      And think about how you’d feel if neighbors your prevented you from building a house on land that you owned, because some guy next door painted something on the side of his house.

      I’m not saying I agree with the development, I’m just playing devil’s advocate.
      I think we should have a park on every block, and as many trees as possible to boot.
      I’m just saying it’s a slippery slope once you really get into it.

  2. Erica Nagurney permalink
    February 11, 2013 9:06 am

    Definitely sad this mural will be covered up. I used to live in Fairmount and really loved seeing that mural on a daily basis. I guess it’ll just be a little hidden gem some Philadelphians will remember for ever and hopefully pass on the secret to generations and transplants to come!

  3. jim permalink
    February 11, 2013 8:56 pm

    I hope they leave it preserved underneath the possibly crappy frame and siding they pop up there so when it crumbles in 50 years it’ll be back again! Architectural time capsule.

  4. February 13, 2013 10:45 pm

    This was a curious place for a Chomsky mural; didn’t he grow up in Olney? Apart from that, and I can’t speak on the need for a park in the neighborhood, but I would have to think that mixed-use construction at this corner is a better use of the space than a mural overlooking a lot. Sometimes it’s tough losing artwork, even though this one was barely there for three years. But murals can and do get repainted when this happens (as David Guinn is doing with a whole new Autumn), and inevitably it will happen again and again. That capitalism which swallows up murals is only acting in the same interests as the capitalism that caused Philly to become riddled with the empty lots that depleted the city’s tax base and enabled those same murals to proliferate. Philly will always be a mural capital; as the city grows again, we will need to focus on the quality of our most outstanding public artworks instead of preserving their quantity.

  5. Skye permalink
    February 17, 2013 3:31 am

    ?? There’s a park two blocks away: a huge park with a baseball field, playground, basketball court. Lots of people take their dogs there. However, the people from the frequent the park are not the gentrifying yuppie type. They are the working-class families type. Seems to me this is almost a case of segregation. People should learn to embrace their neighborhood for what and who it is. This is the city. If you want something self-contained and sterile, move to the suburbs.

  6. May 30, 2013 10:48 pm

    Some people are missing the point. Just because space is empty, you don’t have to build on it. Developers have misplaced bodies in cemeteries, destroyed wildlife habitats, dismantle art to build malls, schools, housing… Now people in the suburbs are complaining about bears, foxes, and deer destroying their property. Property the originally belonged to wildlife.


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