William Penn Statue - Philadelphia, PA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 57.165 W 075° 09.800
18S E 486048 N 4422525
Quick Description: The William Penn Statue rests at the top of Philadelphia City Hall and without a doubt is the most famous and recognizable statue in Philadelphia, a town overwhelmed with statues, abstract, figurative and persons named.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 8/12/2010 7:29:04 PM
Waymark Code: WM9F9N
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member NJBiblio
Views: 6

Long Description:

Atop the tower (open 9-3:30 Mon.-Fri.; 9-12 Sat.), rising more than 500 feet above the street, is a 26-ton statue of William Penn modeled by Alexander Milne Calder and hoisted into place in 1894, 24 years after the construction of the building had started.--- Pennsylvania: A Guide to the Keystone State, 1940; page 268

The 26-ton statue of William Penn atop the building was modeled by Alexander Milne Calder and hoisted into place in 1894 - the highest point in Philadelphia. There is a relief plaque, a nice piece of art, which honors him and acts as a kind of sign of history. This is located in the northern plaza in front of the building. Urban designer Edmund Bacon was known to say that no gentleman would build taller than the brim of William Penn's hat.

This agreement stood in place for almost 100 years until Philly decided to allow skyscrapers taller then William to be built. Since the March 1987 construction of the One Liberty Place skyscraper, which exceeded the height of William Penn's statue atop Philadelphia City Hall we were cursed and none of our sports teams won a thing, not a championship not a conference final, nothing until our beloved Phils took the crown in '08. The curse had gained such prominence in Philadelphia that a documentary film entitled The Curse of William Penn was produced about it

The statue is made of bronze. The crowning statue of William Penn faces to the northeast, toward a location on the banks of the Delaware River where he signed a treaty of friendship with the Lenape Indians in 1682. I am pretty sure the papers he is holding is the treaty. The statue is the tallest atop any building in the world. I smell superlative!

From the inventory page: Standing portrait of William Penn at thirty-eight. He stands erect, his proper right hand extended to offer a blessing. In his proper left hand he holds a scroll and leans against a tree stump. He is dressed in a long buttoned jacket, shirt with ruffles at the neck and cuffs, knee britches, stocking, shoes with buckles, and a broad-brimmed hat. His hair is long and he stares down at the ground.

When Calder finished the plaster model in 1888, there was no foundry in the country capable of casting the figure. Tacony Iron and Metal Works was created to cast not only the figure of Penn, but also the tower metalwork. The figure was cast in fourteen sections and took almost two years to finish.

Sculptor: Calder, Alexander Milne, 1846-1923
Architect: McArthur, John, Jr., 1823-1890
Architect: Powell, W. Bleddyn
Caster: Cassani, John
Founder: Tacony Iron & Metal Works,

From my friends at Wikipedia (Source listed below)

Calder wished the statue to face south so that its face would be lit by the sun most of the day, all the better to reveal the details that he had included in the work. The statue actually faces a little northeast, towards Penn Treaty Park in the Fishtown section of the city, which commemorates the site where William Penn signed a treaty with the local Native American tribe.[6] Beyond Penn Treaty Park is Pennsbury Manor, Penn's country home in Bucks County. Yet another version for why the statue pointed generally north instead of south is that it was the current (1894) architect's way of showing displeasure with the style of the work; that by 1894 it was not in the current, popular Beaux-Arts style; that it was out of date even before it was placed on top of the building.[citation needed] A joke among Philadelphians that results from Penn's position is that when viewed from Ben Franklin Parkway the statue appears to be engaged in a lewd activity, due to the scroll in its hand. Starting in the 1990s, when one of Philadelphia's four major sports teams was close to winning a championship, the statue was decorated with the jersey of that team.

Book: Pennsylvania

Page Number(s) of Excerpt: 268

Year Originally Published: 1940

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