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The Thinker at the Rodin Museum.
Flickr/Norman Maddeaux

Philly’s iconic public sculptures, mapped

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The Thinker at the Rodin Museum.
| Flickr/Norman Maddeaux

Philadelphia has an incredible stock of public art, ranging from colorful city murals to downright head-scratching sculptures scattered throughout the city. But in honor of International Sculpture Day, we at Curbed Philly wanted to highlight some of the city’s most iconic sculptures to date.

This is by no means a complete catalogue—the Association of Public Art has the extremely lengthy list here. Feel free to share your favorite(s) in the comments below!

The following points are listed geographically from west to east.

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Smith Memorial Arch

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The second oldest sculpture on this list after William Penn, the Smith Memorial Arch actually consists of 13 sculptures and busts. It was written in prominent Philadelphian Richard Smith’s will to donate $500,000 to build a monument to Pennsylvania’s naval and military heroes of the Civil War. Designed by architect John T. Windrim, it took 15 years to build from start to finish and now serves as the gateway to West Fairmount Park. No doubt more attention will be brought to the memorial when Parkside Neighborhood Edge finishes construction in fall 2017.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Covenant

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“Covenant” is public art piece commissioned for the Redevelopment Authority’s percent-for-art requirement. Designed by Alexander Liberman, it was installed in 1975 along Locust Walk on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus. The painted steel sculptures weighs more than 25 tons and is 45-feet tall.

Photo by Melissa Romero

Rocky Statue

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This 8-foot, 6-inch-tall sculpture of Sylvester Stallone’s famous Rocky character currently sits at the base of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. But in its 35-year history, it has had many homes. Designed by A. Thomas Schomberg and given to the city of Philadelphia by Stallone in 1982, it first stood atop the museum’s “Rocky steps.” But critics argued that the “movie prop” wasn’t suited for the cultural institution, and it moved down to South Philly at the old Spectrum stadium. Ultimately, it found a permanent location at the foot of the art museum in 2006 and draws thousands of visitors each year.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Thinker

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A smaller version of Auguste Rodin’s iconic Thinker sculpture sits outside of the Rodin Museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The 6-foot, 7-inch-tall bronze sculpture sits on a concrete and limestone base and was installed in 1929. The set-up of the sculpture in front of the facade is a replicate of Rodin’s actual tomb in Meudon, France.

Courtesy of Shutterstock

Swann Memorial Fountain

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No doubt one of the most iconic fountains in the city, the Swann Memorial Fountain dates back to 1924 and is the heart of Logan Square. Designed by Alexander Stirling Calder, there are three bronze sculptures of Native Americans in recline that spout water, representing the city’s three main waterways: The Delaware River, Schuylkill River, and the Wissahickon Creek. The memorial is dedicated to Dr. Wilson Cary Swann, founder and president of the Philadelphia Fountain Society.

Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia

Amor is a Robert Indiana Sculpture that has been sitting pretty in its new permanent home at Sister Cities Park since December 2016. Previously, it stood atop the Rocky steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, while it was on loan from the Morgan Art Foundation an on display during the Pope’s visit. The 6-foot-tall sculpture is now owned by the city.

Courtesy of Center City District

Clothespin

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This critically acclaimed sculpture by Claes Oldenburg was installed in 1976 in Center City as part of the city’s 1 percent art program. As the Philadelphia Association for Public Art puts it, “Clothespin certainly draws a reaction from everyone who passes it.” It’s made of Cor-Ten steel, which turns a reddish-brown as it weathers.

Flickr/Scott Baldwin

Robert Indiana’s iconic Love sculpture is currently off somewhere being restored, but it will soon return to its home at Love Park, which is set to re-open new-and-improved in fall 2017. The LOVE sculpture was removed from its main location at John F. Kennedy Plaza (i.e. LOVE Park) one year ago ahead of the park’s renovations. Indiana originally donated the 6-foot-tall sculpture to the city in 1976 as a loan, but it has remained here ever since.

William Penn

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The 37-foot-tall William Penn bronz statue sits on top of City Hall and has the title of being the tallest statue atop any building in the world. Designed by Alexander Milne Calder, it was installed in 1894 and took almost two years to finish. It’s about to undergo a much-needed restoration beginning May 1, which will take about six weeks.

Courtesy of Shutterstock

Paint Torch

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This 51-foot-tall paintbrush juts out over North Broad Street from Lenfest Plaza next to the Frank Furness-designed Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. It was designed by Claes Oldenburg (see also #7) and installed in August 2011 as a way to honor the act of painting. At night, the brush and the glob of paint on the plaza are illuminated.

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Smith Memorial Arch

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The second oldest sculpture on this list after William Penn, the Smith Memorial Arch actually consists of 13 sculptures and busts. It was written in prominent Philadelphian Richard Smith’s will to donate $500,000 to build a monument to Pennsylvania’s naval and military heroes of the Civil War. Designed by architect John T. Windrim, it took 15 years to build from start to finish and now serves as the gateway to West Fairmount Park. No doubt more attention will be brought to the memorial when Parkside Neighborhood Edge finishes construction in fall 2017.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Covenant

Photo by Melissa Romero

“Covenant” is public art piece commissioned for the Redevelopment Authority’s percent-for-art requirement. Designed by Alexander Liberman, it was installed in 1975 along Locust Walk on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus. The painted steel sculptures weighs more than 25 tons and is 45-feet tall.

Photo by Melissa Romero

Rocky Statue

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

This 8-foot, 6-inch-tall sculpture of Sylvester Stallone’s famous Rocky character currently sits at the base of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. But in its 35-year history, it has had many homes. Designed by A. Thomas Schomberg and given to the city of Philadelphia by Stallone in 1982, it first stood atop the museum’s “Rocky steps.” But critics argued that the “movie prop” wasn’t suited for the cultural institution, and it moved down to South Philly at the old Spectrum stadium. Ultimately, it found a permanent location at the foot of the art museum in 2006 and draws thousands of visitors each year.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Thinker

Courtesy of Shutterstock

A smaller version of Auguste Rodin’s iconic Thinker sculpture sits outside of the Rodin Museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The 6-foot, 7-inch-tall bronze sculpture sits on a concrete and limestone base and was installed in 1929. The set-up of the sculpture in front of the facade is a replicate of Rodin’s actual tomb in Meudon, France.

Courtesy of Shutterstock

Swann Memorial Fountain

Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia

No doubt one of the most iconic fountains in the city, the Swann Memorial Fountain dates back to 1924 and is the heart of Logan Square. Designed by Alexander Stirling Calder, there are three bronze sculptures of Native Americans in recline that spout water, representing the city’s three main waterways: The Delaware River, Schuylkill River, and the Wissahickon Creek. The memorial is dedicated to Dr. Wilson Cary Swann, founder and president of the Philadelphia Fountain Society.

Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia

Amor

Courtesy of Center City District

Amor is a Robert Indiana Sculpture that has been sitting pretty in its new permanent home at Sister Cities Park since December 2016. Previously, it stood atop the Rocky steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, while it was on loan from the Morgan Art Foundation an on display during the Pope’s visit. The 6-foot-tall sculpture is now owned by the city.

Courtesy of Center City District

Clothespin

Flickr/Scott Baldwin

This critically acclaimed sculpture by Claes Oldenburg was installed in 1976 in Center City as part of the city’s 1 percent art program. As the Philadelphia Association for Public Art puts it, “Clothespin certainly draws a reaction from everyone who passes it.” It’s made of Cor-Ten steel, which turns a reddish-brown as it weathers.

Flickr/Scott Baldwin

Love

Robert Indiana’s iconic Love sculpture is currently off somewhere being restored, but it will soon return to its home at Love Park, which is set to re-open new-and-improved in fall 2017. The LOVE sculpture was removed from its main location at John F. Kennedy Plaza (i.e. LOVE Park) one year ago ahead of the park’s renovations. Indiana originally donated the 6-foot-tall sculpture to the city in 1976 as a loan, but it has remained here ever since.

William Penn

Courtesy of Shutterstock

The 37-foot-tall William Penn bronz statue sits on top of City Hall and has the title of being the tallest statue atop any building in the world. Designed by Alexander Milne Calder, it was installed in 1894 and took almost two years to finish. It’s about to undergo a much-needed restoration beginning May 1, which will take about six weeks.

Courtesy of Shutterstock

Paint Torch

This 51-foot-tall paintbrush juts out over North Broad Street from Lenfest Plaza next to the Frank Furness-designed Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. It was designed by Claes Oldenburg (see also #7) and installed in August 2011 as a way to honor the act of painting. At night, the brush and the glob of paint on the plaza are illuminated.