Earlier this summer I was at the #WhyILovePhilly Summer Party which also was the grand opening of the Spruce Street Harbor Park. While I was there, I happen to be lamenting the fact that even though Philly has some amazing tours, there is no bike tour. When I moved here a few years back I checked. I couldn’t help thinking: Philly is one of the flattest cities I’ve ever lived in, it’s full of all this history and art – there has to be a bike tour. But in the end I couldn’t find a legit Bike tour of Philadelphia.
So there I am, complaining about this fact at the Hooley coloring tent with friends when a guy turning in his make-your-own-Philly-love-note says, “Actually I work at Philly Bike Tour Co. – so now there is a bike tour of Philadelphia.” … I was floored. And so excited!
Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to sign up for a tour until recently when my sister came to town. She’s visited several times and I wanted to do something new and different. We signed up for the Outdoor Art Tour. We arrived at the address provided and I realized this company is run out of Fairmount Bicycles. There we met Jo our tour guide and once we got fitted for our bikes we hit the road.
On this tour you go around 8 miles from the Art Museum area all around Fairmount Park to Center City and back up the Parkway. We saw works from the 1800s all the way to present time. Jo was a great tour guide, extremely knowledgeable and able to answer any and all random questions that my sister and I could think of to ask. Having lived in this city for a while I was surprised to realize how little I knew about the sculptures I’ve seen and even more so, how many sculptures I didn’t even know existed.
If I had to pick my top three favorite pieces from the tour I’d have to say the first would be Stone Age in America by John J. Boyle (1887). It’s a monument in the truest sense of the word, full of allegorical imagery as well as a clear artist intention. It’s also beautifully crafted. The next would have to be the 1964 Monument to Six Million Jewish Martyrs by Nathan Rapoport. This is one I never even knew existed, hidden in the middle of bustling Center City it depicts a mass of tangled limbs and figures in the cubist semi-abstract style. My final favorite is a close call between Roxy Paine’s Symbiosis and Jordan Griska’s Grumman Greenhouse. I think Paine’s Symbiosis wins, but only because once you find out this sculpture is made of pulled steel you’ll be floored. It depicts two trees holding each other up. It’s an incredible piece; inspiring and quietly powerful.
Overall this was a wonderful tour and Philly Bike Tour does an incredible job of making you feel comfortable and safe while you have a great time biking through the city. I know I’ll be trying their other tour options soon. I definitely encourage you to sign up for a tour yourself. I know I’ll be trying out their Beer History Tour the moment it becomes available.