What a reputation this city has acquired.

Often resented and neglected instead of admired.

Oh, Philadelphia. How long of a way you have come.

The first capital of the United States – a fact only known by some.

Philadelphia – the cradle of the Liberty Bell.

This city is the epitome of show and tell.

Philadelphia is known for its arts and culture.

Take a walk through the city with the most beautiful sculptures.

For instance, the freedom sculpture on 16th and vine –

A depiction of struggle and desire cleverly intertwined.

The universal theme for freedom stands true.

Countless cultures have their own versions of the blues.

We all face obstacles throughout our life;

Underestimate another’s and you welcome strife.

Freedom – a universal desire we share as a team.

Freedom from illness, freedom from sin, freedom from prejudice in race and sexism.

My reaction to the sculpture that depicts a victory.

But I think we should help each other and not repeat history.

Moving on from the past and onto the present,

Philadelphia’s sights will have you feeling transcendent.

Fairmount Park – an outdoor museum of art –

An atmosphere that pleases my heart.

Now I’m no tour guide and no nothing of the sort.

But I do know Philly isn’t just a regional port.

I have not seen it all but I am waiting anxiously

For a day to observe the mural arts close and personally.

Each building has a message for all to hear.

I hope you know I am truly being sincere.

Indulge in this one-of-a-kind city of “Brotherly Love.”

Philadelphia is historical, modern, contemporary and all the above.

Philadelphia, what does it mean?

A balance of old, new and everything in between.

I never considered it to be pretty

Until I snapped a photo of the city.

Those buildings wouldn’t stand so tall without the rest,

Even the weakest, ugliest, shortest branch supports a nest.

The not-so-safe areas of Philly have potential

And acknowledging this is essential.

Because when I say the city of Philadelphia is beautiful overall,

I mean how the layout of the city functions all the way up to the buildings that stand tall.

It gives us all something to look forward to.

Oh, Philadelphia. I truly appreciate you.

Tori’s Winning Grit & Beauty Submission

These are all photos I’ve taken in Philly since becoming a Temple student. I’ve had some adventures. I’ve also stalked a lot of people on public transit.

Way back in 2009 when I was narrowing down what colleges to apply to, I visited Boston to look at Emerson College (which, looking back was just an elaborate excuse to go on a road trip with my dad, because the idea that this Florida girl was going to handle living farther north was a hilarious pipe dream).

I felt slightly uncomfortable the entire time we were in Boston, and I couldn’t put my finger on why until I got back to Philadelphia. “Dad, it’s just so polite. And sterile. It’s like a city for dolls. Puritan dolls.”

I am an artist. I love juxtaposition, texture, and character. I love quirky noses, mismatched earrings, wrinkles, crumbling buildings, found art, curling cigarette smoke- the list goes on. The point is to demonstrate that for me, “grit” and “beauty” are inextricably linked- if something is just “pretty” it doesn’t arrest my attention, so I find myself drawn to things (and people, and places, for that matter) that merge the two. This explains my fascination with graffiti, an art form that is simultaneously an act of explosive creativity and aggressive vandalism.

Over the past few years at Temple, I have had the opportunity to explore the city where street writing was born and have collected some pretty cool relics along the way. Though documenting street art started my camera-carrying habit, Philadelphia’s unique landscape solidified it. The result is a collage of some of my favorite photos from my time living in Philadelphia- images that (for me) capture the true melding of the boundaries between grit and beauty and exemplify a city that is perfect in its imperfections. Enjoy!




Graffiti welcomes you in the morning as the neighbor you once didn’t like.

When September kisses your cheek, you know it is time to wear your sweater.

The benches are beds to men who make it their homes,

trash dances in the wind until it rests in the corners of the roads.

The streets like to test the patience of drivers,

and lullabies are made of sounds from trains, buses, and loud music.

A place that began

with Quakers,

and transitioned to row homes and culturally different neighbors.






By: Ashley Rivera


Diamond St

Dark streets, dim lights

Not much going on for sights

Chin up, eyes straight

Homeward bounds, it’s way too late

Shadow approaches, asks me what’s good

I say nothing and hide my face in my hood

Shadow comes closer, says I should smile

Walks past me so I grin for the next half mile

Old man’s on the corner, asks for change

I had nothing for him but he blessed me anyway

Shattered bottles, boarded windows

It’s a well loved placed – well, “lived-in” and it shows

holly’s poem

this is a love poem that bypasses the bullshit, i found a girl that i could fall in love with.

i asked her please  to stay with me, i held her close, she kissed so softly.

soon to philly i was bound to go, she turned away and she told me no.

so my dreams are dying now, they’re thrown across the ground.

as the plane takes off my heart breaks, my dreams are dying now

running errands.


The corner store at the end of the block.

Push open the poster-covered door.

Flash a smile to the owner, Robbie.



Fresh Avocados, 50 cents.

Homegirl Potato Chips.

Forever blasting music en Espanol.
Three kids slap a dollar on the counter.
Handfuls of Candy.
Smiles crack on their faces.
A man sits napping in a lawn chair.
The dull lights buzz.
Order a sandwich from the back.
Lean against shelves of baby food.
Close eyes slowly.
Listen to the languages.
Spanish, English, Korean
Kids, Adults, a Dog barks.
The laundromat two blocks west.
Enter through the barred gate.
Wave hello to the woman on shift, Denise.
Drop clothes into the rusty white machine.
Flimsy metal tokens: No Cash Value.
Tap the button for small load.
Take a seat in the folding chair.
Smoking allowed.
Smoking encouraged.
A teenager stands in front of a machine.
Tapping his foot slowly.
Staring at the spinning clothes.
Chilling air cuts through the open door.
Sounds of skateboards slapping the ground outside.
Machine chimes, dry clothes.
8 Minutes for 25 Cents.
Chat lazily with Denise for a dollar-fifty of time.
Her young son just learned to spell his name.
Walking down Broad Street after nine hour shift.
Gently run fingers down subway station railing.
Catch a glimpse of self in the sheet of metal.
Juggling Septa tokens and spare change.
Drop one token down the slot.
Drop on the bench like a rock.
Drifting off into space.
A man drums on empty buckets.
It echos through the empty station.
The express subways woosh by.
Beeping noises and the female announcer’s voice.
Wrap scarf up tighter and cross legs.
No one looks like talking.
Everyone looks half asleep.
Shuffling feet and deep yawns.
The movement of people.
The subway is rolling in.