Love Sculpture Moved From LOVE Park to Dilworth Park
For the George Young Company, it was a labor of love.
“It’s the kind of thing we do as a niche business,” company president George S. Young said while watching workers move Love into place. “And so we handle a lot of sculptures. We have a reputation for doing this. We moved the Liberty Bell. We did the Clothespin; we put in Rizzo over here.”
George Young Company, which was founded in Philadelphia in 1869, is named after a great-great uncle of Young’s who won the company from his great-great grandfather in a poker game. (Unfortunately, the current George Young didn’t know the winning hand.) Workers from the company guided the Love sculpture on a slow journey from one plaza to another this morning.
“What goes into this is typically we look at the piece and we try to determine how it’s secured to the base,” Young said. “So those straps that you see around it are nothing more than — they’re just a safety. Just in case the hardware inside that holds it to the base is defective.” Workers then screwed the sculpture’s stand to a temporary concrete base that was later covered up with a decorative slab.
LOVE Park is currently undergoing a massive renovation. The Love sculpture will sit in Dilworth Park until the work on LOVE Park gets nearer to completion. It will then be completely restored before being re-installed in the new LOVE Park (officially called JFK Plaza).
The Love sculpture is Philadelphia’s greatest public art piece. Conceived by pop artist Robert Indiana for a Museum of Modern Art Christmas card in 1967, the image was first turned into a sculpture in 1970.
The city installed a version of Love in 1976 for the bicentennial, but took it away in 1978. People were upset. They clamored for its return. The city obliged.
It’s since become a symbol of the city. The statue’s location in LOVE Park leads to great photo opportunities. Tourists pose in front of it. Wedding parties take photos. Couples get engaged in front of it. It lent its name to the LOVE Gap, an iconic skateboarding trick spot that helped cement LOVE Park’s spot as a skateboarding mecca.
Great public art attracts attention — it becomes a place, not just an art piece. There’s not a lot of it in Philadelphia. You can meet your group at The Clothespin. You can take your out-of-state friends to see the Rocky statue. You can, uh, pee on the Ben Franklin bench statue at Penn (as is tradition). But nothing matches Love’s meaning to both insiders and outsiders. It helped turn sleepy JFK Plaza into LOVE Park.
Dilworth had a similar, if official, transition in name: When it was renovated it went from Dilworth Plaza to Dilworth Park. It’s still more concrete plaza than green park, but no matter: The site is more engaging now than it was in its previous incarnation. The LOVE sculpture, however temporary, will help continue that transition. Dilworth just needs some public art of its own when Love returns to its proper location.
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