Sensory overload doesn?t begin to describe Philadelphia?s Magic Gardens. A seemingly boundless compilation of colors, textures, and shapes, the labyrinthine mosaic creation spans 3,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. The masterpiece originated in the brain of Isaiah Zagar, a Philadelphia native who grew up in New York. During his third year of art school, he stumbled upon Clarence Schmidt?s folk-art-inspired installations?assemblages of found objects and recycled materials?and the young artist?s view of the art world changed. ?I didn't know that I was looking at art,? Zagar reflects in his mission statement. Self-admittedly, Zagar has been somewhat ?copying? Schmidt?s dynamic, free-flowing style ever since.
The years after art school brought Zagar an onslaught of new opportunities. He spent time as an artist in China and India, joined the Peace Corps with his wife Julia, settled in Peru for three years, and even tried his hand at ceramics in Wisconsin. In the ?60s, he and Julia returned to his birthplace?specifically, the waning South Street neighborhood. Isaiah quickly leapt into action, renovating dilapidated buildings and often adding mosaics to formerly barren walls. Eventually, Isaiah?s imagination outgrew their projects, and in 1994 he began constructing a new piece in a vacant lot near his studio?the project would become Philadelphia?s Magic Gardens.
Isaiah spent 14 precious years, which he should have applied to Y2K preparations, scooping out tunnels, erecting multitiered walls, and splashing the entire space in colorful tile. The finished product stretches across half a block of South Street; the outside enclosure shimmering with vibrant tiles, the inside housing folk art, colored glass bottles, and countless sparkling mirrors. Now a nonprofit organization, Philadelphia?s Magic Gardens invites visitors to enjoy its visual candy with guided or self-guided tours.
More than 50 years ago, Mr. John E. Connelly set his sights on cleaning up Pittsburgh's polluted three rivers and returning them to their former glory as the Steel City's heart and soul. As then-treasurer of the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, John was in a prime position to complete his ambition. With the belief that he could get the public engaged and committed to a cleanup, he decided to give the local people access to the rivers via boat tours, knowing the city's characteristic architecture as viewed from the rivers would engender a genuine appreciation for the region's waterways and environment.
After getting his nephew, Captain Jack Goessling, on board, John purchased a 100-passenger fishing boat they would christen the Gateway Clipper, which would later launch from Monongahela Wharf for the first of its many pleasure cruises. Today, with Gateway Clipper Fleet, his dream of engaging locals and visitors in the city's history and waterways thrives with a fleet that has grown to five boats capable of accommodating 2,500 guests. Through the years, the fleet has ferried more than 25 million passengers, treating them to dinner cruises, sightseeing tours, and entertainment jaunts along the clean, blue waters of Pittsburgh's three rivers.
Facing down winds of up to 78 mph. Controlling a robotic dinosaur with the same hydraulic technology behind amusement park rides. Such experiences only skim the surface of the 100-plus attractions available in Da Vinci Science Center's 10,000-square-foot, two-story exhibit space. Here, other hands-on activities run the gamut from assembling models of carbon nanotubes to navigating a 72-foot tunnel in complete darkness or with the aid of a friendly firefly.
But exploring exhibits isn't the only way to interact with science at Da Vinci Science Center. For visitors of all ages, the center sponsors nearly three-dozen programs including Science on the Move, which brings experiments directly to schools and community centers. In addition, Da Vinci Science Center hosts several events throughout the year such as Ice Cream Wars, where participants create tasty treats using liquid nitrogen as a freezing agent.
Opened on December 4, 1974, Glass Growers Gallery began as a showcase for founder Deborah Vahanian?s three-dimensional works, which she fashioned from glass and silicone. These days, the gallery houses exhibits of other artists? handmade, decorative and functional artwork, including paintings, prints, pottery, and jewelry. Besides displaying and selling work, the gallery doubles as a workspace where Deborah and her team design everything from personalized awards to wall reliefs commemorating that day your teenager woke before noon. Deborah?s services are likewise available for overseeing and advising art-show selections, installations, and maintenance.
Framed by unfiltered wilderness and the occasional supports of a crossing bridge, the Schuylkill River is a secluded getaway for water lovers looking to float down nature?s slow-motion roller coaster. Reading Rivertribe shuttles aqueous adventurers to chosen points along the river for leisurely kayaking, canoeing, or tubing, with each trip ending where it started: in the stomach of a dreaming whale or next to a CPR-certified shuttle driver.
Lackawanna River Heritage Trail's picnicking spot. The University of Scranton's hallowed halls. The Hill Section's architectural marvels. Touring these popular sites on foot would take hours, but Segway of Scranton offers sightseers a more efficient way to pound the pavement. Sensitive to the body's movements, the two-wheeled segway speeds up and slows down based on how its helmeted rider shifts and can reach speeds of up to 12.5 miles per hour. The vehicles glide collectively on guided tours that pass filming locations for The Office, navigate Nay Aug Park's paths, and head to tranquil spots such as quarry outlooks. Along with conducting group tours, Segway of Scranton rents its rides for self-guided excursions, corporate events, or private get-togethers.