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Statue of William Penn
by Mark Tulin

I used to wear the bronze hat
of William Penn,
the founder of Pennsylvania
who stands atop City Hall
in Philadelphia
I was the one who remembered
how things were
during the revolutionary days
when freedom was a passion
and not a personal insult
I remember what it felt like
to live in the sky,
my head in the clouds,
and look over my brothers
Although I love my place of birth,
I never want to return,
nor do I want to forget
how proudly I once stood.

PHOTO: Statue of William Penn atop City Hall in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by Qing Waa, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For almost 90 years, an unwritten gentlemen’s agreement forbade any building in Philadelphia from rising above the hat on the William Penn statue. This agreement ended in 1985, when final approval was given to the Liberty Place complex. Its centerpieces are two skyscrapers, One Liberty Place and Two Liberty Place, which rose well above the height of Penn’s hat. (Source: Wikipedia)

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Until 1985, the statue of William Penn was the highest point in the city.  I could see this 37-foot bronze statue atop of Philadelphia’s City Hall from my neighborhood in the Northeast section and whenever I took the elevated train into Center City. The iconic sculpture has always been the symbol of what it meant to be a part of the Philadelphia culture. During my adolescence in the 70s, Penn’s statue was etched in my soul, representing our country’s freedom and revolutionary spirit. Since moving from Philadelphia to California approximately 10 years ago, I am reluctant to return to the City of Brotherly Love. I’ve had so many great childhood memories that I don’t want to tarnish them by returning to a place where my favorite corner stores, restaurants, and movie theaters have been replaced by structures that have very little meaning for me.  I want to keep the memory of my city of origin alive and in my heart.

PHOTO: Statue of William Penn awaiting installation at the top of Philadelphia’s City Hall in 1894. The 37-foot bronze statue, which weighs over 50,000 pounds, was designed by Alexander Milne Calder, whose namesake son and grandson also became noted sculptors.

EDITOR’S NOTE: William Penn (1644–1718) was a writer, early member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania. An early advocate of democracy and religious freedom, he was notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Native Americans. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed. Philadelphia was designed to be grid-like, with its streets easy to navigate, unlike London where Penn was from. Philadelphia streets are named with numbers and tree names. He chose to use the names of trees for the cross streets because Pennsylvania means “Penn’s Woods.” (Source: Wikipedia.)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Tulin is a former therapist from Philadelphia who now lives in California. He has two poetry books, Magical Yogis and Awkward Grace. His upcoming book, The Asthmatic Kid and Other Stories is available to pre-order. Mark has been featured in Amethyst Review, Strands Publishers, Fiction on the Web, Terror House Magazine, Trembling with Fear, Life In The Time, Still Point Journal, The Writing Disorder, New Readers Magazine, among others. For more, visit his website, Crow On The Wire.