If City Hall is the heart of Philadelphia, then I would say the statue of the guy on top is the soul of Philadelphia.
William Penn founded Pennsylvania, made a treaty with the Lenni Lenape and is pretty much the go-to Quaker. So yeah, he got himself a City Hall statue (and one in Fishtown’s Penn Treaty Park). And it’s too bad not many people seem to know it.
On a recent afternoon, I asked people walking around outside City Hall if they knew whose statue is atop the building.
Do you know who that statue is on top of City Hall?
Antione, 18, Germantown: Nope
Anna, 25, Chicago: (shakes head)
Lizzie, 20, New Jersey: I have no idea
Ella, 20, New Jersey: No
Nyishia, 26, North Philly: No
Ella, 20, New Jersey: Abraham Lincoln
Kathy, 21, Upper Darby: Ben Franklin
Saad, 25, D.C.: Thomas Jefferson?
It’s actually William Penn. Ever heard of him?
Saad, 25, D.C.: That makes sense
Anna, 25, Chicago: PENNsylvania
Ella, 20, New Jersey: I think I’ve heard of him.
Nyishia, 26, North Philly: The school
Kathy, 21, Upper Darby: He’s a Quaker
Ryan and Paul, New Jersey: William Penn owned a good amount of land here
How does a guy as important to Philly as William Penn fly so far under the radar? Well for starters, there’s no one walking around Old City dressed as Penn.
If you’re feeling bad for not knowing about the Penn statue, check out some fun Billy facts in this William Penn 101.