William Penn

by Alexander Milne Calder

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William Penn stands on top of City Hall

Credit: G. Widman for GPTMC

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City Hall
City Hall
(215) 686-2840

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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. 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.