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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Toynbee Tiles

Since the early 1980s, someone has been secretly placing tiles in the asphalt crosswalks of Philadelphia with the message, "Toynbee Idea Movie 2001 Resurrect Dead Planet Jupiter."

S. 5th St., Philadelphia, PA
Map point is of a specimen near Independence Hall, in the crosswalk that crosses 5th St. on the south side of Walnut St.
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Visitor Tips and News About The Toynbee Tiles

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The Toynbee Tiles

This Toynbee Tile wasn't there when I went on 4/4/2015.

[MK, 04/05/2015]

Toynbee tile.

Toynbee Tiles

The Toynbee Tiles began appearing in Philadelphia -- mostly in or near Center City crosswalks -- in the early 1980s, with the message, "Toynbee Idea Movie 2001 Resurrect Dead Planet Jupiter." Sometimes they include another small message, sometimes they are a bit different in the text or the layout, and some contain basic instructions to the viewer to make and spread their own tiles. The tiles are made of linoleum, asphalt, and tar paper, and last as long as the road does. To this day, no one is sure who placed the tiles or why. There have probably been copycat tilers, as the tiles spread through, and then out of the city, appearing as far west as Missouri, as far north as Massachusetts, and as far south as South America! They are the subject of a documentary titled, "Resurrect Dead."

I would suggest looking for them when visiting Philly, but enjoy your day and walk as much as you can between the sights of the city, and if you remember to look you WILL see them! Tile hunting in Philly is super fun and free! Everyone loves a mystery!

[Kristin Deady, 01/19/2013]

Nearby Offbeat Places

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JFK Stood HereJFK Stood Here, Philadelphia, PA - < 1 mi.
Abe Lincoln Stood HereAbe Lincoln Stood Here, Philadelphia, PA - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Palace of Depression, Vineland, NJ - 32 mi.

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