New Tours, Art & More Highlight Philly’s Historic 7th Ward

A new multi-faceted art and history exploration, Legacy Reclaimed: A 7th Ward Tribute honors the lives — and the lesser-known history — of the 19th-century Black residents of the 7th Ward in Philadelphia.

Located between Sixth Street and 23rd Street and between Spruce Street and South Street, Philadelphia’s 7th Ward was an important part of the Underground Railroad and the Great Migration. It was once home to a community of over 15,000 Black residents, including prominent Black figures like Octavius V. Catto and W. E. B. Du Bois. (Today, the 7th Ward is within parts of Rittenhouse Square, Washington Square West and Society Hill.)

From October 20, 2023, through February 23, 2024, Legacy Reclaimed: A 7th Ward Tribute highlights this history and engages with it via neighborhood walking tours, two major art installations, and a series of curated artist talks and panel discussions — with more coming soon.

Here’s what’s on offer during the four-month-long Legacy Reclaimed: A 7th Ward Tribute project in Philly:

Walking Tours

Legacy Reclaimed offers guided walking tours every Saturday, from October 21, 2023, through February 23, 2024, beginning at 11 a.m.

The tours leave from Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church (Mother Bethel AME) at 419 S. 6th Street and take you to see nearly a dozen historic neighborhood sites, including the exhibition’s indoor and outdoor art installations as well as several homes and businesses in and around the 7th Ward.

Tours first gather in the Mother Bethel AME lecture hall, which includes a special sitting area — curated by The Colored Girls Museum — with info about the history of the 7th Ward.

Guided tour attendees are also encouraged to reserve time before or after to visit the Richard Allen Museum on the lower ground floor of Mother Bethel AME.

Art Installations

Legacy Reclaimed features two art installations on display through Friday, February 23, 2024. Both installations can be viewed independently or as featured stops on the guided walking tour.

Reflecting Revenants: Recalling Black Life In the 7th Ward

Reflecting Revenants, by artists Beth Naomi Lewis and Amelia Carter, combines candid archival photos of 19th and 20th-century Black residents, and superimposes them within the modern-day 7th Ward landscape. The result is an ethereal collection that transcends time and place.

Presented guerilla-style on local residents and businesses, the multi-part outdoor installation pays homage to the rich history of Philly’s former 7th Ward as a center of Black culture and community.

Time Bandit

Time Bandit, by artist Li Sumpter, brings the exhibition back indoors with a multidisciplinary installation that bridges history and mythos.

The work channels tarot cards, Afrofuturism and games of chance, to produce a transmedia work that explores the idea of “time-binding” — aka using symbols to transmit human experiences between generations.

Time Bandit will be on display at Mother Bethel AME starting Saturday, November 18, 2023.

Special Events

Legacy Reclaimed: A 7th Ward Tribute officially kicks off with an open house on Friday, October 20, 2023, followed by a three-part series of curated artist talks and panel discussions throughout the year.

Remembering a Forgotten Hero mural of Octavius Catto by Willis

Remembering a Forgotten Hero mural of Octavius Catto by Willis

  — Photo courtesy Mural Arts Philadelphia

Open House

The public is invited to get a first look at the project during the Legacy Reclaimed open house at Mother Bethel AME on Friday, October 20, 2023, from 12-3 p.m.

The open house provides a glimpse into the 7th Ward’s legacy and heritage before leading into an expert-led tour of the historic neighborhood.

Following the open house, head over to Rex at the Royal for a reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., featuring an extended art installation preview and live entertainment.


Legacy Reclaimed features three open-to-the-public salon events (November 15, 2023, January 17, 2024, and February 7, 2024) made up of artist talks and panel discussions at Mother Bethel AME.

The discussions shed light on topics like historic preservation and the 1930s systemic, cultural and political shifts that affected Black Americans in the 7th Ward. Keep an eye on the official website for registration details.

For more information on Legacy Reclaimed: A 7th Ward Tribute, visit the official website below.

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