Philadelphia’s trash and glass garden

Made entirely of found objects and contributions from the community, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is a folk art environment that showcases the work of mosaicist Isaiah Zagar.

In 1968, Zagar and his wife came to Philadelphia after spending three years with the Peace Corps in Peru. Creating folk art all around his new city, he took an entire rowhouse on South Street and covered it with mosaics, over 3000 square feet of them, that include pieces of mirror and original poetry.

Featured by The New York Times as one of the top five Philadelphia attractions, the Gardens provide a truly unique setting for a wide variety of activities.

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens offers monthly workshops with the artist himself where Zagar teaches two full days of breaking tile, cutting mirror, gluing tile and grouting. Over a weekend, students work on a mosaic from conception to completion.

Educational opportunities help visitors understand and appreciate Zagar’s works of art, mosaic and visionary environments, and Philadelphia history. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is a nonprofit organization that relies mainly on contributions from individuals for its activities.

Open every day, admission is $5 for adults, $2 for ages 6-12, free for children 5 and under.

Photo: Elizabeth J Bird