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New mural connects the ‘fish’ in its backyard back to Fishtown
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New mural connects the ‘fish’ in its backyard back to Fishtown

Mural features native species from the Delaware River to celebrate the area’s biodiversity

A new mural is putting the ‘fish’ back in Fishtown.

I-95 cuts off the Fishtown neighborhood from the Delaware River. A wall at the E Norris Street and Trenton Avenue intersection was dilapidated. So, the Fishtown Neighbors Association (FNA) found an opportunity to reconnect the neighborhood and improve the wall, by bringing together beauty, education and celebrating the biodiversity of a river in its backyard.

The colorful mural features shad, freshwater mussels, beaver, and sturgeon among other wildlife, all which can be found locally in the Delaware River.

“We are one of the success stories of urban river restoration in the country, but nobody knows that. And they should know that,” explained Sarah McAnulty, founder of Skype a Scientist and American squid biologist.

After FNA received funding from a grant through Rivers Casino via the Penn Treaty Special Services District, the project came together pretty quickly, according to McAnulty.

The 115 feet wide and 13 feet tall mural was designed by artist Sean Martorana, and painted by local art students at the Kensington Creative & Performing Arts High School (KCAPA). Martorana focuses on work based on or inspired by nature, making him the ‘perfect fit’ for this project.

Skype a Scientist & Sean Martorana
Sarah McAnulty, Founder of Skype a Scientist & Artist Sean Martorana

The mural was a collaborative project, with McAnulty picking out the animals, flowers and fauna; and the students picking which ones they wanted to see in the mural before designing, according to Martorana.

Adding an innovative twist, Skype a Scientist provides interactive science education to enrich the viewer’s experience of the mural. Using QR technology, passersby can unlock a deeper understanding of the Delaware River’s biodiversity through their smartphones. This integration of art and science enhances the mural and fosters a sense of environmental stewardship among residents.

For example, With the visual barrier of 95, neighbors frequently forget that litter on the streets frequently ends up in the local water.

“I wanted people to be a little bit more mindful of the trash that goes into the sewers since we’re so close to the river,” said McAnulty.

Martorana & McAnulty at the mural community unveiling on Friday, May 12th.

The community’s excitement about the mural was palpable at its unveiling on Friday. But for weeks, Martorana was watching neighbors leave for work in the morning and return from their day’s commute, passing by the mural’s progression.

“I was fortunate to be in a position where I heard the gratitude from the neighborhood and just how thankful people were and how much it really was affecting their lives,” said Martorana.


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Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher
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