Philly's Beautiful Plan to Fight Crime with Neon Murals

Image: Streets Dept.
Image: Streets Dept.

Just the presence of streetlights can deter criminal behavior. A South Philadelphia neighborhood is trying something a little more innovative than that—using neon-lit murals to brighten the sidewalk and turn the area into a destination.

Electric Street, by David Guinn and Drew Billiau, transforms a wall into a work of public art that not only adds color to the street but also gives people to a reason to come to the area and stick around after dark.


The beauty of the installation is that it’s apparently not very easy to find (Streets Dept. posted the exact location here) so people are getting a little lost trying to find it, some resorting to popping into local bars to ask for directions, and sticking around for drinks. This is all good—more eyes and feet on the street.

Another cool thing about the mural is that it seems to have been installed largely in secret, surprising even the locals with its existence. As the artists hinted in their announcement, this will be the first of many projects to appear in the area, thanks to funding that they won through the Knight Arts Challenge.


In other words, get ready for your Instagram feeds to be flooded with neon-lit selfies.

[Streets Dept. via Philly Mag]


Alissa is the former urbanism editor at Gizmodo.

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Isn’t neon like the go to lighting source for technological dystopias? First comes the neon, then the gangs riding hover bikes, before finally all the grizzled men sporting fedoras, overcoats, and gruff internal monologues show up. Next thing you know you can’t remember if your human or robot... No thank you Neo-Philadelphia I’ll stick to my desert/frozen hellscape future.