Phoenix Rising sculpture says farewell to Dilworth Plaza

Even though construction on Dilworth Plaza began months ago, the Phoenix Rising sculpture remained in its barren, sunken setting in the Plaza’s north end.

On Thursday, keen-eyed observers may have noticed crews removing the Phoenix Rising sculpture out of the dusty demolition zone that is Dilworth Plaza.

The sculpture – which I’ve had described to me as a paper airplane after a nosedive – was designed by Emlen Etting as a memorial to former Mayor Richardson Dilworth. Its metal folds were supposed to evoke the phoenix’s wings, symbolizing Dilworth’s vision for the city’s rebirth.

Much like Dilworth Plaza, Phoenix Rising never made much sense to me as a tribute. The artwork and its depressed setting never seemed a suitable memorial to the late great mayor.

But fret not Phoenix Rising lovers, it’s not being taken away forever.

The plan, according to the Center City District, is to restore Phoenix Rising in preparation for its new home on Dock Street, near the Society Hill Towers. The Art Commission okayed the move in September 2011. No word yet on when Phoenix Rising will be installed in its new location.

Rendering of 'Phoenix Rising' in its future location on Dock Street. | by KieranTimberlake, courtesy of Center City District
(Rendering of 'Phoenix Rising' in its future location on Dock Street. | by KieranTimberlake, courtesy of Center City District)

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