Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Magic Gardens

The Magic Gardens of Philadelphia provide a glimpse into the fabulously over the top imagination of Isaiah Zagar, a prolific artist whose work can be seen in hundreds of morals across the city. Back in the 1960’s, he and his wife moved to (formerly) derelict South Street, pioneering the renaissance of the now Bohemian neighborhood. He bought a building and fenced off the vacant lot next door.  


Over the next 14 years, he constructed a magical labyrinth of walkways, stairs, niches, and tunnels, decorated with broken wine bottles, bicycle wheels, pieces of pottery, glass and mirrors, and a variety of recycled art objects.


In 2002, as real estate values improved, the owner of the vacant lot wanted to sell the land, putting this creative masterpiece in jeopardy of demolition, but the community rose to the occasion. They helped Zagar purchase and preserve the garden via a non-profit organization.

As a visitor to PMG, you are literally walking through art, and as you gaze up at the side of a building that is three stories high with every inch of it covered in pieces of mosaic, you wonder “How on earth did he do that?” Everything is mosaicked – even the bathrooms! There is also an interior art gallery and a delightful patio area. 

After your visit to this hidden treasure, South Street is a great quirky neighborhood to explore, and you’ll find plenty of interesting places to eat and shop. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens are located at 1020 South Street (between 10th and 11th) and are open every day. Admission is only $7. 


  1. Fascinating! Thank you for the tour!!

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