In the heart of Center City, Philadelphia is the JFK Plaza, which is known to many Philadelphians as LOVE Park. The plaza is the home of The Fairmount Park Welcome Center, a single-spout fountain, and Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture. The plaza serves as a terminal point for The Ben Franklin Parkway and merges it to City Hall. The plaza itself was designed in 1965 by city planners Vincent King and Edmund Bacon as a visitor’s center. The addition of the LOVE statue came later in 1976 as a symbol in celebration of the country’s Bicentennial commemoration.
Two years later the statue was removed from JFK Plaza; the same year, the chairmen of the Philadelphia Art Commission, F. E. Dixon, Jr. , issued the sculpture to be permanently placed in the park because it was greatly missed. The LOVE statue was a major part of American Pop Culture and remains to be to this day. Robert Indiana was an American artist that was greatly involved in pop culture. Much of his work focused on bold, simple, and iconic images. He would frequently use numbers and short words in his designs.
Indiana’s LOVE was first created in 1964 for the Museum of Modern Art as a Christmas card design. The first sculpture was produced and exhibited on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, New York. In 1973, the United States Postal Service used the design on one of their eight cent stamps as the first to an entire series. Today, the LOVE statue and design is numerously replicated around the world for iconic purposes. The statute’s physical design is a typical form of Robert Indiana’s; a short word with letters stacked on each other, including a slanted “O”.
The outside surfaces of the letters are colored a bright red while the inners of the letters are a vibrant blue; I think this was possibly done as a tribute to our nation’s flag. The statue is particularly suitable for its location in Center City Philadelphia because of the city’s nickname; The City of Brotherly Love. I think that even though Manhattan was the first city to exhibit Indiana’s statue that it is possibly more recognizable in association to Philadelphia because of its nickname. The physical layout of the park is infamously known to be a skateboarder’s playground.
Skateboarding at LOVE Park has been a major controversy since the trend hit the City of Philadelphia. LOVE Park is said to be of the finest skate parks in the world, because of this, ESPN has held their “X Games” tournament in Philadelphia for two consecutive years. This is also a main reason why LOVE Park is a major tourist attraction when visiting Philadelphia. Not only is the LOVE statue a historical piece of art, many people travel just to see people skateboarding or to try and skate themselves.
In 2002, then Philadelphian Mayor, John Street, set up renovations for the, so that is would enforce a ban on skateboarding. In addition to Street’s renovations he introduced a fine for skating at the park of three hundred dollars; LOVE Park is constantly under a permanent police watch. Even though Mayor Street established a fine for skating, LOVE Park is still very much a skateable square in the City; it is just illegal to do so. The skateboarding has decreased drastically since the institution of a fine but the LOVE statue and the park as a whole still attracts many people for sporadic congregating.
On a spring day you might fine many people walking around the park or see many business people having their lunch break by the fountain. The single-spout fountain is another attraction to the park that plays off of the LOVE statue very well. I think seeing the fountain bursting up behind the statue sets a fun and loving mood for visitors. The fountain showcases the statue in the park by acting as a stage or a backdrop for the famous icon.
Often times the fountain will be died a certain color in order to acknowledge specific events (i. . Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness or Green for celebration of The Philadelphia Phillies being World Series Champions). Overall, I think the main centerpiece to the Park is the LOVE statue because of my personal experiences I relate to the statue itself. I could be considered a Philadelphian compared to many of my friends that I go to school with, even though I live in a Philadelphia suburb. Personally, I have taken the statue for granted for all twenty-one years that I have lived near this great City.
I commute in and out of the city on a moderately frequent basis and never have stopped to admire the beauty and meaning of the iconic statue. One of the first places I went when I moved to school was to visit LOVE Park with my new friends who have only heard about it and wanted very much to see the statue in person. They took pictures by it and we stayed in the Park the whole day just people watching and admiring the statue and fountain and surrounding buildings, like City Hall.
Because of this day I shared with my new friends I was able to start looking at Philadelphia and its historical architecture in a new light, from an outsider’s perspective. I have started to truly appreciate more the meaning that the design of the LOVE statue has adapted since being placed in the center of our City. Like I mentioned previously Philadelphia is “The City of Brotherly Love” and the statue is the perfect icon for this theme. Thinking about past and current events that take place in Philadelphia, I can relate them to the feeling of love and sense of welcome that emerges from the city.
After September 11th the City came together as a support team for our neighboring New York and also the Nation’s capitol in D. C. , which displayed much love. Most recently, with a parade for The Philadelphia Phillies celebrating being World Champions also exemplified the love the people have for their city and the pride they take in calling it their home. It also showed the loyal support of a home team who represents our city on a national level.
Other aspects of Philadelphia like the Mummers, Geno’s ; Pat’s, The Art Museum, the numerous skyscrapers, etc. all contribute to Philadelphia’s love and to its architecture. Many of these places and people play a big role in architecture and the meaning/purpose of architecture which is the understanding. We have to understand different aspects of architecture like what it is, when it was created, where it was created, why it was developed, and how some of these landmarks came to be “Philadelphian” to truly appreciate their presence in our city.
I think by understanding the certain style of a building or an era that a statue was sculpted in can really create a message to the viewer or surrounding community. I think that when an engineer, artist, architect, etc. creates something that they are trying to express something about themselves and some meaning that they found through their own surroundings and the potential surroundings of their development or art. I think that when he LOVE statue was created and brought to Philadelphia it was to be very blunt and upfront with its message which was just the meaning of love. Share love, experience love, give love, to be friendly and caring and welcoming. All of these things are what a city like Philadelphia aspires for and wants for its citizens and for visitors. The love statue portrays a certain image that Philadelphia tries to upkeep on a daily basis. I think that the statue is truly an appropriate icon for the city of Philadelphia.