16 Philadelphians Who Deserve A Statue

And a few who don't

We’re already the acknowledged City of Murals, so what can we do next to enhance our outdoors urban art cred?


With Bill Penn sitting atop City Hall, the City of Statues movement does have a built-in major head start.

And there are all those statues of people nobody knows in Fairmount Park and those statues of ballplayers we all know at the sports complex.

And there seems to be fresh momentum.

A statue of the late Joey Giardello, beloved South Philadelphia resident and middleweight boxing champ from the mid-‘60s, was recently dedicated at 13th.

Fundraising efforts continue for a statue of Chuck Bednarik, the former Eagles’ star from the same early ‘60s era, best known for liking to hit people really hard.

There’s talk of statues for Bobby Clarke, Reggie White and, yep, Dick Clark too.

Ed Rendell, a man of many gigs these days, recently told the Metro he’d soon start lobbying for a statue of Smokin’ Joe Frazier, the still living, still breathing, still Ali hating former heavyweight champ who spent much of his life breaking all kind of mean sweats in that little gym he owns way up on North Broad.

Philadelphia: City of Statues.

Nice ring, eh?

Who wouldn’t want to turn a city corner and run smack into a bronze likeness of Daryl Hall or Earl the Pearl, Harold Melvin or Chief Halftown?

Think of the possible action figures we could bronze.

The Geator snapping his fingers.

Daryl Dawkins shattering a backboard.

?uestlove tweeting on his Blackberry.

Wilson Goode dropping a bomb on West Philly.

Okay, okay, but come on: the fun is in imagining what could be.

Before we get too real about our statues movement, a wrong needs to be made right.

That statue of Frank Rizzo, the one that stands in front of the Municipal Services Building just north of City Hall?

That baby has to go.

Frank Rizzo, the former police commissioner and two-term mayor, was, okay, loved by some. But he struck terror in the hearts of many others during his near two-decade reign as boss man here.

“When I’m finished with them,” he once said of anti-police demonstrators, “I’ll make Attila the Hun look like a fag.”

Oh, but that’s just a little taste.

Even if you were of a mind to believe a good head-banging bully like Rizzo was what was needed back in our city’s dark days of racial dysfunction, you’ve surely come around to believe how wrong that was by now.

The evidence is in: we’ve seen what happens when a divider not a uniter is put in charge.

And since Rizzo was the ultimate divider, we have no choice but to remove his large bronzed figure from its place of prominence near City Hall and put it in cold storage until his place in history can be assessed by a diverse panel of his peers.

The spot where Rizzo stands near City Hall is prime real estate. We just may want to consider someone else of major prominence for that spot.

Like, say, Edmund Bacon.

Or Kevin Bacon.

Michael Vick?

Arlene Ackerman?

Okay, are we having some real fun now or what?

Tim Whitaker (twhitaker@mightywriters.org) is the executive director of Mighty Writers, a nonprofit program that inspires city kids to write.