By Jan Carabeo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Tucked away inside “The Curtis” on 6th Street, opposite Washington Square, is The Dream Garden.

It’s not made of traditional leaves and flowers, but 100,000 pieces of glass.

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“It’s a hidden treasure, but a lot of people come to visit regularly,” said Mary McGinn, PAFA curator.

Crowds have been coming here for more than a century now. At 15-feet-tall and 49-feet-wide, this mosaic took a whole year to build.

Twenty-four panels were created in New York and then reassembled in Philly.

This masterpiece brought to life by Tiffany Studios, based on a painting by Philly native Maxfield Parrish.

“A dream garden based on his garden in New Hampshire,” said McGinn. “This is opaque glass. It’s called Favrile glass. It has a lot of sparkle to it.”

Restoration gets underway this summer to be complete by the end of the year.

“Once it’s cleaned and repaired, it’s going to look nearly as fabulous as it did 100 years ago,” said McGinn.

From inside The Curtis, to South Street — This is Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.

Spanning half a block, the grand installation is created with colorful glass bottles, tiles and thousands of mirrors and more.

“We really describe it as walking into someone’s diary,” said Emily Smith, Magic Gardens Executive Director.

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So it’s full of anxiety, love and strange stories.

It’s all the brain child of Philly native Isaiah Zagar. and it took him 14 years to complete.

“He actually squatted on these lots and then slowly was working secretly and it became this majestic installation over time,” said Smith.

The garden opened in 2008, and 136,000 people visited last year alone.

Eyewitnesses to this spot’s charm.

A place to find something new around each corner.

During every visit.

“You can actually go underground and there’s all these tunnels and hallways,” said Smith. “It’s mostly hidden under the street, and people don’t know what’s really inside.”

And it’s like Isaiah is talking to you and you can only really get that until you come inside.


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