NYC Health and Transportation Departments Transform Two South Bronx Stairwells into Murals to Encourage Physical Activity

The Health Department and the Department of Transportation announced the installation of two large-scale murals on outdoor stairs in the Morrisania and Crotona areas of the South Bronx. These two areas have the highest rate of obesity in the city. Approximately 35% of the residents are obese.

The murals were designed by Bronx-based artists to promote exercise. Blue-Winged Warbler, designed by Diana Perea, includes patterns found in nature and the blue-winged warbler, a bird native to the Bronx. It is located at Third Avenue and Weiher Court. Josie Gonzalez’s mural, Rise Up, is installed at Third Avenue and 164th Street and it displays a mythical bird inspired by symbols in the indigenous and Spanish-speaking communities.

“Exercise is essential for good health, and taking the stairs is a quick and easy way to incorporate exercise into a busy day,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Adding colorful murals is a way to encourage people in the South Bronx to take the stairs every day.”

“For New York City’s urban planners, step streets were a creative and practical way to navigate steep changes in the landscape,” said New York City Department of Transportation Assistant Commissioner of Urban Design + Art + Wayfinding Wendy Feuer. “Using the stairs as a canvas for beautiful and colorful murals builds on that original effort, encouraging physical activity by making it more fun to walk up and down.”

Technical support for the grants was provided through the Fund for Public Health in New York City. All paint materials for this project were donated by Liquitex Artist Materials. Funding for the mural project was provided through the KaBOOM! Play Everywhere Challenge, one of 50 projects nationwide that received funding through a $1 million competition to select and implement the best ideas for creating play opportunities for kids in unexpected places.

“It’s wonderful to see art and public health come together to provide kids with an innovative, unique, safe place to play and be creative,” said James Siegal, CEO of KaBOOM! “This project is at the vanguard of transforming everyday spaces into vibrant places for kids and families, and we are excited to see what other ideas this will inspire across NYC and beyond.”