Rainbow crosswalks come to Philadelphia

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At the intersection of 13th and Locust streets, Philadelphia’s brand-new rainbow crosswalks in support of the LGBT community are being received positively by residents and business owners in the area. (Layla A. Jones)

“Who said they could paint my street?” exclaimed an enthralled little girl walking across 13th Street at Locust.

She was reacting to the brand-new rainbow crosswalks in support of the city’s LGBT community. In late March Philly Pride Presents announced the crosswalks would be coming this summer, and they appeared today at each of the cross sections at 13th and Locust streets.

The bright walkways are made up of six horizontal red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet stripes. They were made possible thanks to Philly Pride Presents and the City of Philadelphia.

Already, they’re catching the eyes of passers-by. Christina Meinhardt of South Philadelphia said she loves the pop of color.

“They’re very representative of the history and the future of the city,” Meinhardt said, “where the gay community is integrating into everyday life.” With the painted rainbows located between Advocare Society Hill Pediatrics and Nest Landing, a childcare service and play space, Meinhardt said she felt they represent “a really nice mesh of family life, city life and gay life."

Hara Caplan, one of the partners at Nest Landing, said she feels the crosswalks probably affect people’s moods for the better.

“I think it shows the city support,” she said. “We have a kids' area right here. I’m happy that there’s a prominent crosswalk.”

Though it may seem the crosswalks appeared overnight, they actually came after years of planning and budgeting. Though the initial installation estimate for the crosswalks was $26,000, Philly Pride Presents senior adviser Chuck Volz told the Philadelphia Gay News the actual cost turned out to be much less.

The reward for the visual representation of support for the LGBT community, said Independence Visitor Center employee Albert Lee, is that tourists coming to the city can very clearly see we’re gay-friendly.

“We keep talking about how this is the city of neighborhoods,” said Lee, “and this is the Gayborhood. I think it helps with trying to mesh the ideas of being welcome.”

He referenced the new crosswalks, the recent appointment of Director of the Office of LGBT Affairs Nellie Fitzpatrick and the upcoming July gay-rights celebration as a sign that the city is “making headway.”

“When [LGBT people] see [the crosswalks], hopefully people will feel more proud of themselves.”

The rainbow crosswalks will be dedicated at the Annual Reminders Block Party on July 5, honoring the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. LGBT-rights group demonstrations.

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