'We the Youth' – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Atlas Obscura

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

'We the Youth'

South Philadelphia is home to Keith Haring's only surviving in situ collaborative public mural. 

Located in South Philly’s Point Breeze Neighborhood, “We the Youth” is a mural created by 14 high school students (six from New York City, eight from Philadelphia) and the famous New York-based artist Keith Haring. It remains the only one of Haring’s collaborative public murals still in situ, as well as the only collaborative mural by Haring that’s still intact.

“We the Youth” was created in 1987 to coincide with the bicentennial of the United States Constitution, and was Haring’s only artistic endeavor in Philadelphia. The location, a rowhome in what was a low-income neighborhood facing a vacant lot, was chosen in an effort to encourage development in the neighborhood.

The mural was never meant to be permanent. Thus, it has been restored multiple times, most notably in 2013, when the wall was repaired and the mural conserved in a process that took several months.

The mural, which is quite typical of Haring’s style, features the artist’s trademark cartoon-like figures and bright colors. It is one of nearly 4,000 murals in Philadelphia (which has been dubbed the “Mural Capital of the World”) and one of the most historically significant murals in the city. However, few mainstream Philadelphia tourism websites mention it, nor do many guidebooks.

Know Before You Go

"We the Youth" is located at the corner of 22nd and Ellsworth, facing westward. There is a public park in front of the mural where you can sit and observe the mural up close. However, the mural itself is private property, so please be careful and respectful. You can take as many pictures of the mural as you want, but do not disturb the residents or other park patrons.

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