South Philly/Old City Hidden City Festival And Mural Tour Highlights

— by Jenna Slowey

Hidden City Philadelphia and the Mural Arts Program are joining forces this weekend to offer a bus tour that visits Hidden City festival sites, as well as some of the city’s more prominent murals in South Philadelphia and Old City.  The tour will be held at 1:00 pm every day from Thursday, June 20 to Sunday, June 30. The tour costs $35 per person and includes a one-day Hidden City Festival Pass.

The tour begins at John Grass Wood Turning, 141 North 3rd Street, a legacy woodturning business started by Bavarian immigrant John Grass in 1863 that closed in 2003. The workshop has remained intact and essentially unchanged for a century. Located in America’s first manufacturing district (and crucible of Philadelphia’s “Workshop of the World”), the company made tool handles, flag poles and furniture — almost anything made of wood that needed to be turned on a lathe.

More after the jump.
The on-site Wood Shop project serves as a pilot project to introduce John Grass to the wider public, to exhibit handcrafted products created throughout its 160-year history and as a custom railing and balustrade by maker Joe McTeague, who will be incorporating found lathe-turned products created at John Grass.

Later, the tour visits Shivtei Yeshuron-Ezras Israel, a small converted storefront synagogue from 1909. In the century since, as Jewish South Philly grew then shrunk then grew again, this tiny synagogue has persisted, almost unchanged, as one of the last pre-World War I row house “shuls” of its kind.

Textile artist Andrew Dahlgren is working on site in his ADMK Knit Lab. He will meet visitors as he creates a knitted quilt that will cover the facade of the synagogue.

In between the two visits, several of the city’s murals will be visited.

“Marrying Philadelphia’s forgotten historical and architectural treasures with the far-ranging mural program is a natural fit,” Hidden City Creative Director Lee Tusman said. “This tour provides a sampling of the best of both worlds.”

The six-week Hidden City festival is a unique combination of art, history and architecture, as well as an exercise in building community and imagining new futures for vacant spaces. It will present the largest showing to date in Philadelphia — and one of the largest in the country — of what’s been called “social practice art,” a burgeoning grassroots movement recently spotlighted in The New York Times and also on

Shivtei Yeshuron-Ezras Israel
2015 South 4th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148

The nine Hidden City sites are located in a wide array of neighborhoods, including Center City, Germantown, Frankford, South Philadelphia and University City:

  1. Kelly Natatorium at Fairmount Park,
  2. Germantown Town Hall,
  3. The Athenaeum of Philadelphia,
  4. the Historical Society of Frankford,
  5. Congregation Shivtei Yeshuron-Ezras Israel,
  6. Hawthorne Hall,
  7. Fort Mifflin,
  8. John Grass Woodturning and
  9. Globe Dye Works.

Other highlights this week include:

  • Punk Jews screening, 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 20 at Shivtei Yeshuron-Ezras Israel, 2015 S. 4th St. Profiling Hassidic punk rockers, Yiddish street performers, African-American Jewish activists and more, Punk Jews explores an emerging movement of provocateurs and committed Jews who are asking, each in his or her own way, what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century. After the screening, co-producer Saul Saludin will hold a Q&A with the audience. Tickets are $10.
  • Independent Germantown Flagmaking Workshop, 12-7 p.m. Sunday at Germantown Town Hall, 5928 Germantown Ave. Come work with Katie Hargrave of the Think Tank that has yet to be named to design and create the new flag of independent Germantown. No prior knowledge required. Drop in any time to contribute.
  • Radical Jewish Music: A Concert Series — Uri Caine plays Moloch.  8 p.m. Monday at Shivtei Yeshuron-Ezras Israel, 2015 S. 4th St. Tickets are $25 online and $30 at the door. Caine is a musician of astonishing virtuosity and versatility. Coming out of the legendary Philly Jazz scene, his playing is an encyclopedia of styles. Ars Nova Workshop, in partnership with Hidden City Philadelphia, holds the third of its three-part concert series featuring the work of composer John Zorn inside this 19th century South Philly synagogue.

Tickets for Hidden City Philadelphia are available online at http://festival.hiddencityphil… or over the phone at 267-428-0575.

Tickets cost $20 for a one-day pass, $40 for a weekend pass and $70 for an all-festival pass. Hidden City members pay reduced rates of $15 for a one-day pass, $30 for a weekend pass and $50 for an all-festival pass.

About Hidden City Philadelphia
Hidden City Philadelphia pulls back the curtain on the city’s most remarkable places and connects them to new people, functions and resources. We celebrate the power of place and inspire social action to make our city a better place to live, work and play. We do this through four complementary programs: Hidden City Daily, our online magazine; Hidden City Tours & Events; immersive experiences of remarkable places; and Hidden City Festival, an award-winning and widely acclaimed artistic, historical and community event.