Branly Cadet’s “A Quest for Parity”, September 2017.
Towns with a long and storied history tend to be big on statues and sculptures. Nothing brings great Americans to life more robustly than three-dimensional stone doppelgängers. We concluded Day Five with one last stroll through Center City Philadelphia, surrounded by art on all sides as the sun retreated into the west.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. Normally we’ll choose one major locale as our primary objective, drive that-a-way, and concentrate on exploring the vicinity for a few days before retreating.
We crafted this year’s itinerary with a different approach. Instead of choosing one city as a hub, we focused on one of the motifs that’s recurred through several of our trips: grave sites of Presidents of the United States of America. Our 2018 road trip would effectively have the format and feel of a video game side quest — collecting nine American Presidents across ten presidencies, four states, seven days, and 2000 miles…
Our walk begins on an unexpectedly somber note with Nathan Rappaport’s 1964 “Monument to Six Million Jewish Martyrs”.
A self-made reproduction of Robert Indiana’s famous “LOVE” is the best-known feature of John F. Kennedy Plaza, a.k.a. “Love Park”. The original is here in Indianapolis at our big art museum.
The Love Park Fountain, added in 1969.
Across from City Hall stands “Government of the People”, dedicated in 1976, three years after the death of artist Jacques Lipchitz.
Frank Rizzo, police commissioner and mayor through most of the ’70s. This salute was funded by fans from his old South Philly neighborhood. Most of what I’ve read about him was…not complimentary. Paul Sorvino once played him a movie. He was not the protagonist.
The Pannsylvania Freemasons marked their 250th anniversary by commissioning Joe Brown’s 1981 “Benjamin Franklin, Craftsman”.
Also near the Masonic Temple is James West’s 2017 two-pack “The Bond”, costarring Franklin and our two millionth George Washington statue.
Not our first statue of William McKinley (d. 1901), this 1908 version was designed by Charles Lopez and executed by Isidore Konti. Below McKinley is an avatar of Wisdom educating The Youth.
In 1883 artist John Rogers (probably no relation to any Leverage creators) was paid a cool $25,000.00 to honor Major General John Fulton Reynolds, killed at the start of the Battle of Gettysburg.
John Christian Bullitt, an attorney responsible for drafting a bill that later became the Philadelphia City Charter. (1907, John J. Boyle.)
A protest flyer adorns the base beneath team locomotive innovator Matthias Baldwin. (1905, Herbert Adams.)
Philadelphia City Hall looms above all of these as the sky continues to darken.
A City Hall hall, inside and outside at once.
We scurried past a loud teen dance party on one sidewalk that doubled as an Occupy Philadelphia event protesting the city’s info-sharing relationship with I.C.E. Signs beseeched Mayor Jim Kenney to “END P.A.R.S. NOW!” I had to look it up; apparently, Mayor Kenney later did exactly that.
A less arty viewpoint of our lead photo’s subject, “A Quest for Parity”. Central figure Octavius Catto was a teacher, sportsman, founding member of the Banneker Institute, and black voting activist murdered by an angry racist on Election Day 1871, two years after Pennsylvania ratified the 15th Amendment. Among Philly’s hundreds of statues citywide, in 2017 Catto’s became the first to honor a specific black individual.
The lights of Love Park on our way back to the hotel. The kids frolicked into the night, but we were more than ready to collapse.
To be continued!
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