Bella Vista, Italian for “beautiful sight,” is full of just that – beautiful sights. Settled by Italian immigrants, the neighborhood eventually welcomed more cultures creating a unique and diverse space full of both modern and traditional beautiful places.
The Fleisher Art Memorial
Originally founded by Samuel S. Fleisher, the building located at 719 Catharine St. in Bella Vista was previously known as the Graphic Sketch Club. The organization offered free lessons and help to any adults in need for creative spaces. The building is now recognized as the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial. The space is currently used for art classes and is rented out for anything from meetings to weddings to performances. The beautiful stained windows in the front of the old church building and the fall-themed mural on the side of the memorial building mix together modern and traditional art forms.
Bel Arbor Community Garden
With more than 20 plots of luscious greenery, the Bel Arbor Community Garden at 10th and Kimball streets. offers a break from the city atmosphere for a small, but appreciated, nature scene.
“We usually get 1st or 2nd place in the City Gardens Contest for medium gardens,” said gardener Rosemary Tilly.
The donated garden is a permanent green space in the city.
Winter: Crystal Snowscape by David Guinn
The art scene is prominent in South Philadelphia. Located at 10th and Bainbridge streets, the wintery scene by local artist David Guinn stands permanently by a parking lot.
St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi Parish
More than a century and a half old, St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi became the first Italian national parish in the country. The church was founded by St. John N. Neumann. It’s pink marble and gold trim makes the interior of the church just as striking at the exterior.
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
Philadelphia’s famous Magic Gardens is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. The gardens offer a unique and vibrant site, celebrating the work of artist Isaiah Zagar. The nonprofit organization showcases his mosaic and mural art pieces. The glass artwork can also be seen spread out around South Philadelphia inside of different pieces of architecture.
– Text and images by Chelsea Finn and Monica Miller.