Transit Art Philadelphia: 4 Favorites in the City of Brotherly Love

 Regional Rail at Jefferson Station, photo by davidwilson1949
 Regional Rail at Jefferson Station, photo by davidwilson1949
 Regional Rail at Jefferson Station, photo by davidwilson1949

One thing most great cities have in common is that they embrace public art. This is certainly true for the city of Philadelphia which has a robust public art program including transit art. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA), the region's public transit provider, includes subway service as well as other mass transportation centers such as bus and trolleys and related facilities. Like other urban communities we've covered, Philly has made wise investments into “art in transit” programming.


As we discussed in previous articles, public art creates a sense of community and place. The SEPTA Art in Transit Program was born of the desire to create a dynamic transit environment and enhance the aesthetic of transportation facilities and subway stations. It has been an instrumental tool for SEPTA for broader community outreach and partnership building efforts. As the transit program grew, it was also an opportunity to support local artists along the way, and many other community benefits.

We’re highlighting four of our favorite transit art (and transit art-related) opportunities in Philadelphia.

1. Fifth Street Subway Murals


Given what we know about its art program, it is no surprise that Philly's subway stations have incorporated permanent art installations as an integral component of their transportation infrastructure.

The Fifth Street subway station is one such transit gem. The station showcases a recently curated display of works by artist Tom Judd, which highlights the historic elements and individuals associated with Philadelphia’s past. Judd's “Portal to Discovery” includes depictions of famous Philadelphians for which he took great care to tell an honest story that reflects the racial inequities of the time.

2. Restored Subway Station at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

While this venue is not part of a functioning transit system, it’s a point of interest nonetheless. Though initially constructed as a railway station that never came to fruition, the exalted and expansive hall was closed to the public for many decades.

With the assistance of master architect Frank Gehry (whose work we wrote about in a previous article), the newly reimagined space features limestone walls and grand arched ceilings. The project was part of a bigger renovation project of the museum which was led by Gehry.


3. Cheltenham-ogontz Bus Loop“Enliven,” photo by Montgomery County Planning Commission

Located along the Cheltenham-Ogontz bus loop, a thoroughfare from Cheltenham township to Philadelphia proper, "Enliven" is an industrial-meets-fanciful sculptural display by artist Nancy Blum. Made of steel and resin materials, the yellow and orange transit art emulates a flowerful field, representing growth and sustainability. Bus riders and non-riders alike will appreciate the aesthetic enhancement of this SEPTA station.

4. Spring Garden Station

Speaking of florals, the Spring Garden Station on the Broad Street Line is one of our favorites of the bunch (pardon the pun). Entitled "Walking on Sunshine," by Margery Amdur, the abstract art creates a breathtaking expanse of floral imagery incorporated singularly within the floors of the station. The one-of-a-kind colorful floor art is truly extraordinary.Check out vibrant abstract florals including UGallery artist Sheila Grabarsky's "Fantasy Garden 27" on our websiteReady to take the full tour? You can do so utilizing the SEPTA station art in transit guide, for your own personalized self-guided tour. Or check out original art online now with new works posted weekly on the UGallery website.