Today let’s visit Love Park in Philadelphia – the city of brotherly love!
Love Park, still officially known as John F. Kennedy Plaza, is a public park located in Center City, Philadelphia. It is known for its iconic “LOVE” sculpture, which has become a symbol of Philadelphia.
The park was created in 1965 by city planner Edmund Bacon as a part of a larger project that aimed to transform Center City into a modern business district. The nickname came about after the Love statue, which was designed by artist Robert Indiana, was placed here.
The LOVE sculpture was created by Robert Indiana in 1970 as a part of a series of pop art works that he called “Love.”
Indiana first created the “Love” design in the mid-1960s as a Christmas card for the Museum of Modern Art. The image featured the word “love” in bold, capital letters with the letter “o” tilted at an angle compared to the others.
The design was later used on a postage stamp in 1973. Unveiled in a ceremony at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the stamp became so popular that 425 million were printed over the next two years.
The original LOVE sculpture was acquired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1976 and was temporarily installed at Love Park for the United States Bicentennial celebration in 1976. Due to its popularity, the sculpture was kept in the park permanently, and a new sculpture was created for the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The LOVE sculpture has become an iconic symbol of Philadelphia and has been featured in countless photos, films, and television shows. The sculpture has also been reproduced and copied in various forms, including T-shirts, mugs, and posters.
In addition to the LOVE sculpture, near the park are a number of other works.
For the occasion of their 250th anniversary, the Pennsylvania Freemasons commissioned artist Joseph Brown to design a larger-than-life-size sculpture of Benjamin Franklin to be installed near their headquarters at the Masonic Temple.
This colossal figure of a young Benjamin Franklin working at a printing press was intended to memorialize Franklin as a printer and an artist and to serve as a reminder of the dignity of the craftsman.
This interesting, folksy sculpture caught my eye, but I have not been able to find it’s name or artist. I did find some information, though.
According to this site, of the 10 statues of women in Philadelphia, 3 are less than 1 foot tall and they’re in this sculpture. The women are (from left) Mary Cassat atop The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Dr. Rebecca Cole with a stethoscope to the American flag, and Betsy Ross sewing.
Rebecca Cole is one of ten women (who aren’t Greek goddesses or biblical characters) memorialized as statues in Philadelphia. If you’re looking for her statue, you’ll need guidance. Face the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services Building then look up about 30 feet in the air. Rebecca Cole is to the left of the Betsy Ross Flag. Clocking in at about one foot tall, this is the only statue of a black woman in all of Philadelphia.
Designed by Robert Indiana, the same artist who created the iconic LOVE sculpture in Philadelphia’s Love Park, AMOR features four colorful letters stacked vertically to spell out the Spanish word for love.
The sculpture was originally created in 1998 and was installed in a plaza in Madrid, Spain. In 2017, the Philadelphia Museum of Art announced that it had acquired the sculpture and planned to display it in Philadelphia. Naturally, the sculpture was installed near Love Park, just a few blocks from its famous predecessor.
On the occasion of Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S., the Philadelphia Museum of Art presented AMOR atop the Museum’s famous steps, where the sculpture overlooked the Papal Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. AMOR of course means “love” in both Pope Francis’ native Spanish and the Church’s traditional Latin.
AMOR is permanently installed in Philadelphia’s Sister Cities Park.
Today, Love Park remains a popular destination for visitors to Philadelphia. The park offers a variety of seating options, including benches, chairs, and tables, and is often used for picnics, events, and concerts.
Love park is just the start of your public art journey in Philly. Follow the Benjamin Franklin Parkway all the way past the Rodin Museum then on to the Barnes Foundation, and to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the famous Rocky statue.