West-Philly born astronaut Guion Bluford, Joe Frazier, Will Smith, and dancer Judith Jamison are part of a new mural scheduled to be painted at SEPTA’s 46th Street Market-El Station in May. The mural will be part of the “Elebration” of the completion to the almost decade-long Market-El rehab project that began in 2000.

The 46th St. El Station

The celebrities will each adorn one of the four columns that support the elevated rail line and in the past were often tagged, according to Rhonda Johnson, a SEPTA spokesperson. The current art on the four pillars were painted by City Year during the initial Market-El revitalization work.

Under the El

Closeup of one of the columns

Each column represents a theme, and the four themes are education, strength, music and dance. The project is the result of input gathered from community members via meetings with neighborhood groups like Spruce Hill Neighborhood Association and Walnut Hill Community Association, local officials, and West Philadelphia High School (WPHS) students, through students’ interaction with City Year corps members.

“We wanted to get input from our riders,” said Johnson, referring to the many WPHS youths who ride the El, as well as community members.

The project is an inexpensive way to spread a positive message and also serves as a deterrent to graffiti, according to Johnson.

“It’s a positive for the community and for SEPTA,” she said.

Another look at the station

Since its inception in 1997, City Year has served more than 100,000 youths across the city through its tutor and service programs.

City Year members will paint the mural, beginning late this month or in May. They’ll first sketch the designs on parachute cloth, then paint the cloth and apply it to the concrete pillars. City Year members also painted a mural at the El’s Melbourne station.

Philly is known internationally as the City of Murals. Here’s to another, and we’re are proud to see Mr. Frazier and the others receiving this honor.

–Lou Mancinelli