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Billy Penn

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NEWS
June 30, 1987 | By SCOTT FLANDER, Daily News Staff Writer
From his much-talked-about hat to his toes, Billy Penn is finally getting a bath. The restoration of William Penn's statue atop City Hall went into full swing this morning as workers, using jets of water, sprayed thick green corrosion off Penn's head and back. The workers on the scaffolding around the statue, 547 feet up, had a breathtaking view of Philadelphia. They were higher than everyone else in the city - except, of course, the workers atop nearby One Liberty Place. With the help of money raised from $1 "Free William Penn" buttons, the William Penn Restoration Committee has raised about $550,000 of the $785,000 needed for the project, according to Herbert Olivieri, who founded the citizens' group.
NEWS
November 30, 1986
For close to two years now Billy Penn has been in that scaffolding cage atop City Hall - a metaphor for a Philadelphia trapped by its own neglect. You can't tell time by the magnificent clock up there either. And maybe that's a good thing because time has been wasting. The statue points an accusing finger at a City Council that has scrimped on restoring the tower - Philadelphia's symbolic masterpiece - while spending scarce funds on new offices, a Councilmobile, charter-change consultants, and so on. But to be honest, Council isn't the only stumbling block.
NEWS
June 1, 1987
Billy Penn's getting something of a shoe shine. Most people probably haven't noticed them behind the acres of scaffolding atop City Hall, but the tips of the proprietor's shoes have been lowered gently to terra firma where they have been water-blasted, tinted and waxed (to keep out acid rain). That's good news. It shows that those "Billy Buttons" being hawked at $1 a pop all over town are starting to work. So far, close to half the $1 million to refurbish Philadelphia's crowning landmark is in hand or pledged, and that's before the major foundations have been hit up. But this isn't a solicitation, folks, just a report (an encouraging report, for a change)
NEWS
April 10, 1987 | By Michael Capuzzo, Inquirer Staff Writer
People sent money. People wrote passionate letters. One woman was so angry she could barely sign her name. Billy Penn needs a wash, she wrote. The FBI got in on the case. (A woman employed at the bureau said she'd sell 200 buttons to free Billy Penn.) A man bought 70 buttons for his mother. And Billy buttons were showing all over town. For the Free William Penn movement, this was the week that was. Songwriters Henry and Bobbie Shaffner rewrote the lyrics of their song "Philadelphia, Philly I Love You": Looking up at the city to Billy's hat, William Penn really needs to be seen.
NEWS
November 2, 2006
RE WILLIAM Kashatus' "Vote for Fast Eddie" op-ed (Oct. 23): For all of the good things that you (or Billy Penn) point out about Gov. Rendell, there are valid counterpoints that say he has had his chance and his ship has sailed. The funding for full-day kindergarten is great, but the dropout rate for the Philadelphia public schools is 40 percent and the district is again in financial trouble. Extended health-care coverage for children is great, but we can do better. Illinois has free health care for every child in the state.
NEWS
September 11, 1986 | By Roger Cohn, Inquirer Staff Writer
Billy Penn gave way to Billy Rouse yesterday as Rouse & Associates' One Liberty Place office tower - now under construction on Market Street - became the tallest building in Philadelphia. Just before noon, crane operator Charles McCue lifted into place the first of a series of 25-foot-long steel columns that will frame the skyscraper's 44th floor. With the erection of that 10-ton hunk of steel, One Liberty Place rose above the top of the William Penn statue on City Hall tower, and a cherished Philadelphia tradition was broken.
NEWS
October 21, 1994 | by Rose DeWolf, Daily News Staff Writer
Not to be smug, but anyone who writes for the Daily News is just naturally close to William Penn - because the paper is located at Broad and Callowhill streets. Callowhill Street is named for Hannah Callowhill Penn, William's second wife. (Broad Street wasn't named in honor of Penn's legendary broad- mindedness, but it should have been.) And when you step out of the front door of the Daily News and look south on Broad Street, you can't miss seeing City Hall. And who stands proudly atop City Hall?
ENTERTAINMENT
January 14, 1987 | By STUART D. BYKOFSKY, Daily News Staff Writer
One day, Herb Olivieri - graduate of Friends Select, the Wharton School and Penn Law - is happily grilling steaks at Olivieri's Prince of Steaks in the Reading Terminal Market. The next day, with the steaks sizzling on the grill, Olivieri sets out to do for the statue of Billy Penn what Lee Iacocca did for the Statue of Liberty. Unlike Iacocca, Olivieri's influence doesn't reach into the boardrooms of Corporate America. Like Iacocca, he is a man in love with a symbol and what that symbol represents.
NEWS
October 3, 2007
Somewhere, William Penn is looking down on the Phillies' National League East pennant and smiling. OK, actually, we can tell you exactly where that somewhere is - on a steel beam some 975 feet atop Center City, where the soaring Comcast Tower was topped off back in June as the tallest building in Philadelphia. It is there that two union workers placed a small statue of Billy Penn in the hopes of breaking the most notorious hex in Philadelphia history, the Curse of Billy Penn. The alleged curse dates back to the mid-1980s and the controversial decision to allow skyscrapers to be built taller than the brim on the hat of the Billy Penn statue on top of City Hall, beginning with the opening of One Liberty Place in 1987.
NEWS
June 19, 2007 | By Henry J. Holcomb INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Keeping alive a centuries-old tradition - with a Philadelphia twist - a beam was hoisted to the highest point of Comcast Center yesterday, topping off Philadelphia's new tallest skyscraper. There was a small tree at one end of the beam, which had been signed by workers and those gathered for the ceremony, and an American flag at the other. Between them was a statue of William Penn, the city's founder. There is a myth that Philadelphia's sports teams will not win a championship as long as a building "rises above Billy Penn" on City Hall, said Bill Hankowsky, chief executive officer of Liberty Property Trust, the Malvern company that is building Comcast Center.
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ARTICLES BY DATE
NEWS
June 6, 2016 | By Mike Newall, Columnist
Don't head for the hills - or Wildwood. Don't flee. Stay in town when the Democrats descend. That was the message Mayor Kenney seemed determined to drive home Wednesday at the rollout of the city's plans for the Democratic National Convention. At the ritzy rooftop affair at Top of the Tower restaurant, soaring skyline views - and a toast of Philadelphia Fish House Punch - were served up along with calming assurances. There's no need for any of the fear and loathing that preceded the papal visit, the message went.
NEWS
May 12, 2016 | By Julia Terruso, Staff Writer
William Penn is due for a physical. Not to mention a waxing and a buffing. The City of Philadelphia plans to restore Penn's bronze statue atop City Hall in late August. The work will take three to four weeks, during which time the observation deck will be closed. Penn's statue was last restored in 2007 with funds from the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia and the city. This time, a different mix is involved: $125,000 in private funds, a $25,000 National Endowment of the Arts (NEA)
NEWS
February 24, 2016
The Philadelphia Historical Commission may soon consider designating the former home of mob boss Angelo Bruno as a historic landmark. Such a dubious distinction would certainly provide a more expansive view of the city's history, shameful as well as proud. Just think of all the other Philadelphia "landmarks" that could offer similar context by recognizing the darker chapters of the city's past. At the top of the list is City Hall, already a landmark though not officially noted as a nexus of white-collar crime.
NEWS
January 29, 2016
TOUGH WEEK for City Councilman Mark Squilla , who managed to piss off every musician and live-music lover in the city - and a good chunk of America - with one little piece of proposed legislation. On Wednesday, Billy Penn staff writer Dustin Slaughter wrote that Squilla's bill would require "owners of nightclubs, cabarets, bars and restaurants in the city to collect the names, addresses, and phone numbers of entertainers - bands, rappers and DJs - in a registry, and to share that personal information with police upon request.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 19, 2015 | By Grace Dickinson, For The Inquirer
Hey, what's the deal? Isn't it supposed to be almost winter? Last weekend, the thermometer hit a near-record high, and it's looking like there won't be a white Christmas. But enjoy it: There's a world of outdoor activities awaiting you around the city. We've put together a few happening this weekend that manage to far surpass spending your Saturday snuggled up inside. Ugly Sweater Run Now is the time to pull out that absurdly embroidered sweater neglected in the back of your closet and wear it with pride.
NEWS
November 20, 2015 | Lauren McCutcheon, Daily News Staff Writer
The First of Philly's taller-than-Billy Penn buildings will soon notch another first. Liberty One, the city's pointiest skyscraper, opens the city's tallest publicly accessible observation deck on Saturday, Nov. 28. When it comes to looking down from high up, Philadelphia's light on options. City Hall's view from Penn's hat is cool, but it's a cramped, rickety, 5-minute ride up, and once you're there, you've got only 10 minutes, and only if the weather permits. You could hop a ride to the 33rd floor of the Loews Hotel, but those views are limited to north and west.
NEWS
October 23, 2015 | Chuck Darrow, Daily News Staff Writer darrowc@phillynews.com, 215-313-3134
The expectations were at least twice as high as Billy Penn's statue on City Hall. After all, Theatre Exile's "Rizzo," whose world premiere is being staged through Nov. 8 at Christ Church Neighborhood House, in Old City, is a play about the most controversial, dominant and polarizing figure in 20th-century Philadelphia politics, written by the city's most successful indigenous playwright and starring an actor who is arguably the region's best and...
ENTERTAINMENT
August 19, 2015 | By Dan DeLuca and Claudia Vargas, Inquirer Staff Writers
Stevie Wonder showed up on a stage in Dilworth Park on the west side of City Hall just after 3 p.m. on a sweltering Philadelphia day. After warming up with a few instrumental selections before the highly excitable crowd gathered Monday to see him, he took a few minutes to explain what he was doing there. "Hello, Philadelphia, I'm so happy to be here," said the 65-year-old musical genius, who had just arrived from Washington on a whirlwind journey to announce the final 20-city leg of his tour for the 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life . He'll play the Wells Fargo Center on Oct. 7. "It's all about love," Wonder said.
NEWS
April 10, 2015 | BY WENDY RUDERMAN, Daily News Staff Writer rudermw@phillynews.com, 215-854-5924
THE LITTLE GIRL is a frequent visitor to the second floor of City Hall. She slips - unseen - past the police officers outside Mayor Nutter's office. She secrets herself within a majestic room called Conversation Hall. She is not supposed to be there, unsupervised, at all hours of the night. Officer George Feinstein, part of the mayor's security detail, acknowledges that he's never actually seen the girl. But twice he's heard her giggle while making his second-floor rounds. He's also heard her sigh, breezily, as he chitchatted with some City Hall visitors.
NEWS
October 18, 2014 | By Virginia A. Smith, Inquirer Staff Writer
She loves Philadelphia. "Come on, this city is gorgeous!" She'd even like to buy some real estate here. "Anyone have some ideas?" But she wanted to know who that guy was standing atop City Hall. "Billy Penn?" she asked incredulously. "What'd he do? Was he like poet laureate, or something, of Philadelphia?" That was Diane Keaton, 68, one of a star-studded handful of keynote speakers Thursday at the 11th annual Pennsylvania Conference for Women, where more than 7,000 women and a few men attended the one-day lollapalooza-scale event.
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