Discovering York Murals in Central Pennsylvania
Excitement is a natural emotion we feel when we find out that any city we visit has great public murals. We visited York, Pennsylvania, and quickly learned of a neighborhood near downtown where it’s easy to find the majority of modern York murals in the city. We’re revealing the photo-worthy works of street art we found and precisely where you can find them too.
The Neighborhood Where You Can Find These Modern York Murals
Luckily the best murals we saw in York were all in one area: the Royal Square District. There are several more photo-realistic murals around downtown York that are part of a historic mural trail developed in the 1990s. They were all created in a similar style and we recommend visiting those as part of a 2-Day York Itinerary. But we gravitate towards modern murals that are unique to the style of each artist and were thrilled to see these.
Royal Square is named after some of the neighborhood’s intersecting streets, which include Princess, King, and Duke. It’s a very walkable neighborhood whose area is just a few blocks.
The trendiest, most photo-worthy murals (dare we say Tik Tok and Instagram worthy too?) in York are here and we’re excited to share them with you.
Royal Square District Murals in York
We drove about 15 minutes from our Heritage Hills Resort hotel to the Royal Square District. We were doubting we were heading in the right direction as we began driving through many blocks of run-down neighborhoods.
But as soon as we got very close to the final destination – perhaps within a tenth of a mile – several murals appeared and our excitement shot up!
We saw over a dozen colorful works of art. Some included animals, others flowers, some fruit, vibrant shapes, and luckily for our photos, a perfect “York” mural too.
While we were only there one afternoon so we can’t say what the population of the area is like daily, we’re guessing this area of York doesn’t get too crowded. We also recommend this as a great socially distanced activity because of this.
Where to Park to Discover the Murals
We recommended parking your car and walking around to find the murals since they’re all very close together.
There is metered parking on the streets on weekdays between 8:00am to 5:00pm for a nominal fee. Free parking is available on weekends and after 5:00pm in various locations.
Enter the following destination into GPS (it’s the address for a shop called Artemis Vintage):
113 S. Duke Street, York, PA 17401
Once you park you’ll be able to find all the murals below within four square blocks and inside one courtyard.
About the Area and Why It’s So….Painted
The Royal Square District’s beautification by murals is a result of the partnership between Sprocket Mural Works and the Parliament Arts Organization of York.
Sprocket Mural Works’ mission to create community pride and civic engagement is, we think, a natural byproduct of the impressive murals artists created here with their support.
We love so much of what Sprocket Murals Works does to support the arts and community. They mainly focus on projects in Harrisburg (which is just 45 minutes north of York) and an annual art festival there. Yet they did expand into York once upon a time, so you never know what the future holds.
Sprocket Mural Works has a call to “donate a wall” on their site if you have a building that could benefit from art, which we love. They also have a call for volunteers if you want to help. (We encourage you to get involved if you live in the area.)
Both organizations exist to support artists and their communities. What could be better?
Street Art Murals Disclaimer
Street art is likened to living things. A mural can be there one day and gone the next. While some areas are less prone to this sort of thing (and we believe the York Murals area is one of them) it’s not uncommon for artists to paint over walls to create new pieces.
If you find a mural we listed here no longer exists, don’t be upset – go with the flow. Perhaps a new one is in its place!
We always appreciate it when readers let us know if this happens. Our mural posts are as up-to-date as possible yet we can’t be everywhere at all times.
Also know we have a deep passion for street art and respect for the artists who work so hard to share their talent with the public. If we have not associated artist credit with a mural it’s because we couldn’t find a name despite our research. If you find a mural in any of our street art posts that we weren’t able to credit but you have further information, please contact us.
The Famous “York” Mural
No matter where you park in the area we suggest starting your tour at the York mural. Because….why not, right? You are, after all, in York, Pennsylvania.
This beautiful mural, with “York” in a sort of script lettering with blue, orange, and green lines behind it, was created by Chelsea Foster. The 41-foot-long wall is in the style of Chelsea’s hand lettering (that’s hand lettering, just like my tattoo – not a font) and was created in 2017.
The physical painting of the mural took place in July. We know exactly the kind of heat she was dealing with because we visited the same time, three years later. Luckily she was able to enlist the help of some friends to complete the painting.
If you ask us, it’s the most iconic mural of all because who doesn’t want a little place marker in photos to proudly proclaim where they visit? If you’re exploring York this is a must-see (and photograph) spot. Note that the “o” and “r” purposely arch up so you can stand underneath the letters without blocking them if you like!
Location: Directly across from the Collusion Tap Works Parking lot off E. Newton Avenue and S. Howard Street.
Black and White Flowers with Colorful Butterflies (Official name: Rebirth)
Just next to Chelsea’s “York” mural is a painting of black and white flowers with colorful butterflies. (To be precise, there’s an orange and yellow one on the front of the garage, a purple one around the corner, and a blue one peeking out from the top of the building.)
Artist Jonathan Molina (known as @skilztat2 on Instagram) was inspired by his spirituality and mother to create this piece. He comments, “We were all once a caterpillar,” on a photo of the mural on his social media. The medium he used was spraypaint.
Location: Directly across from the Collusion Tap Works Parking lot off E. Newton Avenue and S. Howard Street.
Playful 1960’s Flowers: Flower Power Mural
The word “groovy” came to mind as soon as we approached this wall of orange, red, pink, blue, purple, and yellow 5-petal flowers.
Doesn’t it just take you back to the 1960’s? (Err, maybe it was before we were born but my 16-year-old cousin had to dress up for an 80’s party recently and that was 20 years before she was born! Fair is fair.)
Come to find out…it’s called “Flower Power”! Whatdaya know?!
You can even buy a pin of one of the groovy flowers in the artist’s, Victor Manuel Rivera III’s, online shop. We really like that his art is colorful with playful characters and appealing shapes.
Location: Back parking lot of Artemis Vintage, or across the street from Collusion Tap Works, on S. Howard Street.
Multicolor Vertical Lines of Retro Birth
This may be one of the simpler murals in style but have you ever tried to paint straight lines? Sometimes it’s more challenging than it looks! We give the artist, Jeff Copus, credit for his patience. (He is also a co-founder of Sprocket Mural Works.)
It was one of our favorite York murals to take pictures within the Royal Square District because it’s easy to interact with it. I climbed the stairs to reach the second level above Artemis Vintage for Dan to snap the photo below.
It also sort of feels like a movie set with the three windows on the half platform that acts as a wall between the parking lot and courtyard on the other side. We’re not sure if the blue vintage car is always there or we just got lucky. Either way, we dig it.
Location: Parking lot across from Collusion Tap Works. Put “108 S. Howard Street, York, PA” into the GPS if you can’t find it.
A Larger than Life Kiss
Ralphie Sequinot painted this mural with a red background and a man and a woman kissing. They’re frozen like that so we assume they’re good kissers, eh? What a great make-out session!
While it’s officially untitled, this larger-than-life kiss gives us big, loving vibes. The artist’s overall style is very much like this mural’s style, with a stencil-like technique he uses to create his human subjects outlined in black. His pieces are always colored in vibrant hues.
He proclaims the following message on a smaller version of this mural, painted on what seems to be a city electrical box, featured on his Facebook page: “From beginning to end just love.”
Location: Next to the Retro Birth mural above – same parking lot, off S. Howard Street across from Collusion Tap Works.
Google says the definition of an oracle is: a priest or priestess acting as a medium through whom advice or prophecy was sought from the gods in classical antiquity.
If owls are typically thought to be wise (aka: advise others) then we think naming this owl mural “Oracle” is befitting. This majestic bird seems to both swoop over the courtyard and protects all who visit under her wings.
Overall, artist Aron Rook creates beautiful art and this mural is another shining example; her pieces are filled with color and energy.
Location: Royal Square District courtyard, behind The Cantina. Accessible from the parking lot off S. Howard Street by the back entrance of Artemis Vintage, or as a patron through The Cantina, whose entrance is at 105 S. Duke Street.
Angular geometric shapes centered by a lash-adorned eye comprise the mural “Third Eye” in the Royal Square courtyard. It was painted by Megan Caruso, co-founder of Sprocket Mural Works. This Pennsylvania resident drew inspiration from cubism (a style made famous by Picasso) and surrealism for this eye-catching (no pun intended) mural.
We felt more centered simply by focusing on it as we stood in front of it in the courtyard.
Location: Royal Square District courtyard.
If the movement painted in a 2D mural could create a symphony, we see it in the character of the Nasturtium flowers Jacintha Clark created. (View our photos of the mural, above and below.)
These flowers are diverse – they are used for garden decoration and as edible decorations in cooking as well. The artist enjoys painting flowers in her murals – there’s two more beautiful flower murals she created in nearby Harrisburg.
The artist was born in New Mexico but moved to Pennsylvania as an adult and has lived in various cities in Pennsylvania. The mural was painted during a three day festival (as many in the neighborhood were) and its leaves and tendrils wrap around the side of the building.
The word “nasturtium” means noise-twist. They naturally grow like a vine, twisting and turning as they reach from the Earth, They also like partial shade, which is why I think it was serendipitous we saw the building when it was literally partially shaded.
One of the best things about her mural is that this mortal annual flower never needs to be replanted. Its beauty radiates year-round.
Location: Royal Square District courtyard.
Bird for Spoken Word Mural
This three-sided mural is in the alley that leads to a poetry garden…but it also creates its own poetry garden too. One of the walls perpendicular to the bird reads, “I am just a bird for the spoken word.”
Artist Andrius Polonikus (@andrius_artist_z_ on IG) wanted his mural to be colorful with motifs and elements from old fairy tales. We loved learning he grew up in Lithuania for 6 years before moving to the United States in this video. He moved to York for college and stayed.
He’s a veteran painter of the streets of York, with a history of beautifying the city for well over a decade. His experience was probably what enabled him to complete this intricate York mural in just three days. Incredible.
Location: Right next to 108 S. Howard Street
York’s Looking Back Mural
York native, Andi Simpson, painted this orange, blue, and light pink mural. A person emerges from the organic shapes she created on the brick, taking on different transformations as the viewer’s eye moves about the piece.
Her abstract creations are always full of color, movement, and character.
We imagine this York mural is very popular for photos as the multicolor piece transforms into an all-blue canvas as you turn the corner inside this small repurposed freestanding building.
Location: Parking lot of Collusion Tap Works, at 105 S. Howard Street.
Luna Nueva | New Moon
This is definitely a favorite of the murals we saw in downtown York. I love the stars surrounding this beauty’s eccentric hair and the palette artist Pau Quintanajornet selected.
She’s a South American, Chile-born artist residing in Germany. (Which is why her bio on her website is in Spanish, German and English!) York is so lucky to have one of her pieces illuminating the neighborhood. She often paints a female figure with her eyes closed. We feel a moment of calm and reflection when we view Luna Nueva.
The artist was inspired to create the mural from the words of one of her favorite poets, Rumi:
View this post on Instagram
》LUNA NUEVA ○ NEW MOON《 • 05/2019 • for @sprocketmuralworks & @parliamentartsorg at Royal Square District in York , Pennsylvania. ••• My mural is inspired by two Rumi quotes that over the last couple of years became a way of how I want to see the world and create my work in it ••• Rumi wrote : “You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens – In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art” . ••• A new lunar phase begins with the appearance of a new moon. From a spiritual standpoint, the New Moon is the perfect time to start fresh. As the first phase of the moon cycle, the New Moon phase holds special meaning for cultures around the world and is often viewed as a symbol of new beginnings. This magical time provides a reset where goals are renewed, desires are set, and new intentions are made. ••• “Luna Nueva / New Moon” is my love letter to this beautiful cosmic and spiritual body and her ongoing lessons she had shared with me over the years. Mama Moon – was , is and will be my loyal travel companion and reminder that we have to honor our life cycles and celebrate each step of our path with an open heart by letting love rule – always. •○• A big shout out to my girl @danifreakinfresh and her beautiful eye to capture my process at the wall. Thank you Meg and Jancintha and all the great artists and creative heads that made my last days of my US trip in Spring so unforgettable ♡ #theartofpau #lunanueva #newmoon #neumond #neomuralism #folklore #urbanart #arteurbano #mural #streetart #artecallejero #womeninstreetart #womeninthearts #ladieswhopaint #muchachitaspintoras #sproketmuralworks #theparliament #york #pennsylvania #alimentoparaelalma #thewanderess #letloverule #always
After looking at her work I realized I’ve actually seen one of her other pieces in Asbury Park, NJ. It’s a beautiful beach town that has a block of murals along its short boardwalk. We love spotting artists’ work around the world.
Location of Luna Nueva: Across from Collusion Tap Works, across E. Newton Avenue
Pears York Mural
This was easily another favorite mural in York. An artist who was born in Belarus and grew up in Minsk, who now lives in New York by the name of Key Detail, is responsible for this fantastic piece of artwork.
His style is one all his own. The only way I know how to describe it is, “freaking awesome.” Because it is. (Not a sophisticated description, yet true.)
Looking at his Instagram feed (@keydetail) was so entertaining. I found myself looking at his work and scrolling, scrolling along with his IG feed, for far too long!
York is lucky to have this “pearfect” (see what I did there?) mural in their city.
Location: 127 E. Newton Avenue
There are so many ways to interpret Dizz Gavins’ neon blue, pink, yellow, and red mural. An organic rhythm takes shape here that reminds us both of the caverns in Luray, with its stalagmites and stalactites, and of slime bouncing to a beat. Yup, I said it. If slime could dance.
The colorful “splashes” are typical of this artist’s work as you can see in his online shop.
Location: Behind Local’s Only Collective, at 133 S. Duke Street, along E. Newton Avenue.
SpongeBob Popsicle Mural
Justin Ruby created this interesting piece. It’s a person enjoying an ice cream pop. But it’s not just any popsicle: it’s SpongeBob SquarePants.
He finished this huge piece in just four days (wow!). This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the artist’s talent; check out his incredible patchwork pieces of wearable art created with sneaker pieces on his Instagram page (@justinruby).
Location: Parking lot adjacent to 146 S. Duke Street
York Postcard Mural
This piece is high above the treetops on the side of the Yorktowne Hotel. We mentioned discovering murals and street art is liken to a living breathing thing and this mural is a great reminder of that.
A trio of York residents made this possible: Cory Wolfe, executive director of Re-Source York (non-profit home goods and home improvement supply stores), Kim Hogeman, Director of Strategic Development for York County Economic Alliance, and artist Jaysin “Idle Hands” Jefferson who also owns a tattoo shop in the city.
Cory had the vision for an uplifting mural that he felt the city needed when the pandemic rolled around. Kim was able to offer the physical space for the painting, and Jaysin made the mural come to life on the Yorktowne.
It’s currently on the side of the hotel (as of summer 2020) but as construction continues it will be covered up near completion. (Which is a shame – we’d be happy if they salvaged it somehow.)
Here’s what’s inside the YORK postcard letters and why:
- Y: It looks like a screaming eagle! Or smiling, some may say. Or…an anthropomorphic bird of prey ready to PLAY BALL! This is for the York Revolution baseball team. It’s a professional team in York, not to be confused with Major League Baseball (MLB) or minor league for that matter (like we love so much in Durham, NC with the Durham Bulls). Rather, they are a part of the Freedom Division of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.
- O: What do you know, a great Northern Railway train car is inside the O! It’s the one that Abraham Lincoln took through York on his way from DC to Gettysburg. Did you know you can ride it too? We were so happy it was part of our 2 Day York Itinerary.
- R: Representative of the agriculture, history, and traditions in York.
- K: This letter contains a portrait reminiscent of Rosie the Riveter, made famous by a painting by Norman Rockwell during WWII. We learned all about the York Plan when we visited York’s Agricultural and Industrial Museum, and how factories had to switch what they manufactured during WWII to help create supply for the war efforts. Well, what do you know – come 2020 factories would be discussing this once more, in an effort to create more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the nation. So this seemed very appropriate and timely! However, because of this, the artist’s version of Rosie is wearing a mask. It’s also a way for the project collaborators to honor healthcare workers, as Cory and Jaysin have family members who work in healthcare in various capacities.
Surrounding “Greetings from York, PA.” are two flowers in the upper left-hand and lower right-hand corners. They are the Pennsylvania state flower: Mountain Laurel, a shade-tolerant native North American shrub. It’s a close relative of the Azalea and blossoms with beautiful bell-like flowers each spring and summer.
Location: While it’s on the south side of the hotel, it’s visible if you’re standing on S. Duke Street in the Royal Square district, looking north. That was our vantage point when we took this photo.
Painted Door on S. Duke Street
We couldn’t help but include this door as a final closer to our information on York murals. We love that the neighborhood supports such beautiful art. So much so, that they even welcome it in their doorways. It’s also another great spot for a picturesque Instagram photo opp.
It’s the door just next to 113 S. Duke Street, which is the address of Artemis Vintage, where we recommended you park to start the tour. So, now you’re back to the beginning and hopefully where you parked! And if you worked up an appetite we suggest The Cantina in Royal Square for some Mexican food or heading to one of our highly recommended favorite restaurants in York.
Location: 115 S. Duke Street, York, PA
Love the oracle owl!
Us too! It felt like such a protector of the courtyard! 🙂
Our son almost attended York college and now I am sad that he didn’t go there because look at what we missed out on. Such beautiful and creative artwork and sense of community pride as well!
Oh wow, I didn’t know that, Dee! That’s so interesting. It was fun to see that college as we navigated through the towns. xo
I think my favorite is the larger than life kiss!
We love that one too. Says the couple! haha.