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Your City Defined: The Clothespin

The Clothespin is a steel sculpture by artist Claes Oldenburg that towers above The El stop at Centre Square at 1500 Market Street.

The Clothespin is a steel sculpture by artist Claes Oldenburg that towers above The El stop at Centre Square at 1500 Market Street. Developer Jack Wolgin commissioned The Clothespin sculpture in May 1974 as part of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s Percent for Art program, which requires that at least one percent of total building construction costs toward the commissioning of original, specific-to-the-site artwork.

It was dedicated June 25, 1976. The Clothespin is made of Corten (or “weathering”) steel, is 45 feet tall and weighs 10 tons. It’s been praised by art critics for its velvety texture and weathered, warm reddish-brown color. The silvery steel “spring” part resembles the numerals 7 and 6, a nod to the United States Bicentennial year. “If you bang it, it makes a lovely sound,” the artist, Oldenburg, told People magazine in 1976.

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