Art on City Hall
Hundreds of sculptures by a single artist
Today it seems an unimaginable feat. Alexander Milne Calder, the first of the famous Calder family, created not only the statue of William Penn on City Hall Tower, but also most of the other 250-plus sculptures that adorn the massive building.
More than 36 feet tall, the bronze Penn atop the tower commands the city that the man himself founded. Until the 1980s no local building rose higher than “the brim of Billy Penn’s hat.” The figure faces northeast, toward Penn Treaty Park — the site where, legend has it, Penn signed a treaty with the native Lenni Lenape. With his right hand he gestures in that direction, while his left hand holds the Charter of Pennsylvania.
On the tower below William Penn, the south corners feature large bronzes of Swedish adults and children. (Swedes settled the southern parts of the region before Penn arrived.) The north corners show Native Americans. Four eagles perch between the human figures. The hundreds of sculptures on the building proper cover a wide range of subjects: symbolic figures, animals, individual people, ethnic groups. The central pavilions have both allegorical and continental themes:
North side: Philadelphia government and history; Europe
West side: Rehabilitation of lawbreakers; America
South side: Justice; Africa
East side: Philadelphia history and attributes; Asia
After William Penn was installed on the tower, Calder claimed angrily that the figure was supposed to face south, not northeast. But no one has ever offered to move it, perhaps because it weighs more than 53,000 pounds.
In the neighborhood
Museums & Attractions
Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
260 S. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
- Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
- Holiday POPS!
- Philadelphia Theatre Company
- Arch Street United Methodist Church
- Pennsylvania Ballet
- David Lynch: The Unified Field at PAFA
- Philly POPS! On Independence 2014
- The Philadelphia Orchestra
- Pennsylvania Ballet’s The Nutcracker
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Restaurants & Dining
1440 Callowhill St.
Philadelphia, PA 19130
- The Fountain Restaurant
- King of Tandoor
- Capriccio at Cafe Cret
- Water Works Restaurant and Lounge
- Campus Philly CollegeFest
- Kelliann’s Bar & Grill
- Granite Hill
- Sabrina’s Café & Spencer’s Too
- The Comcast Experience HD Video Wall – Comcast Center
- View more Restuarants & Dining