Landmark arch gets extreme makeover

July 30, 2008 3:52:37 PM PDT
Workers spent the morning erecting scaffolding around the Friendship Gate at the corner of 10th and Arch Streets in Chinatown. It gave them a chance to admire the 25 year old landmark up close.

"The artwork has such fine detail. It's amazing being a part of something like this," says Turon Fuller.

Starting this week, the gate is getting a major make-over. As impressive as it is, it's getting worn. The paint is peeling and the colors are fading. It needs more than a quarter-million-dollars worth of work.

But repainting the gate isn't a job for amateurs. That's why five artisans have brought their unique skills to Philadelphia from Tianjin, China.

John Chin, from the Chinatown Development Corporation explains, "The design you see is actually designed from the Chin dynasty, so it's very specialized work. They have certain color requirements and natural organics, like pigs' blood and things like that."

The artisans have spent much of the last week and a half trying to find the ingredients they'll need. But they've also taken some time to see the city. And so far, the project manager, speaking through a translator, says he likes what he's seen.

"He said it's cute, and the streets are convenient," says project manager Jin Duo Liu.

The project was slightly delayed by this weekend's underground electrical fire. PECO workers are wrapping up their repairs, clearing the way for Phase One of the gate project, removal of the old paint.

"The restoration work is expected to take about a month and a half. It's hoped by the, the gold expert will be able to get his visa from China, and get here to add the finishing touches.

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