Philadeiphia’s Wall Murals Also Its Newest Religion

Philadelphia started its wall mural program in blighted areas in an effort to send a positive message to impoverished inner-city kids. I recall seeing them painted on the walls of housing projects way back when off of Vare Ave as I sat in traffic on the Schuykill Expressway. But don’t dare contract with the owner of a privately-owned building to paint your own mural without permission from your overlords.

In a city famous for murals, some recent paintings on the sides of businesses and abandoned buildings seem to blend with Philadelphia’s urban landscape.

But a closer inspection shows them to be advertisements for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and Colt 45 malt liquor, which are brands sold by Pabst Brewing Company. They appear to be part of a national marketing campaign by the Illinois-based company.

Several business operators said they were paid to have the ads painted on their buildings and were told or assumed that it was legal.

However, the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections said they are breaking the law.

Meanwhile, put that same artwork on a billboard and it’s ok. Go figure.


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