When I heard that the National Park Service was planning to remove William Penn’s statue from Welcome Park in Philadelphia (before changing that plan in a sudden reversal), I was immediately reminded of the legendary “Curse of Billy Penn” story.
In a nutshell, prior to 1987 there existed an informal understanding that no building in Center City Philadelphia would be taller than the statue of Penn that sits atop City Hall.
That gentlemen’s agreement was violated with the construction of One Liberty Place and, according to the urban legend, that jinxed Philadelphia’s four major sports teams from winning championships in football, baseball, basketball or hockey between 1987 and 2008.
Team leaders like the 76ers’ Allen Iverson and the Eagles’ Donovan McNabb could not bring home the trophy.
To break the curse, a small statuette of Penn was affixed to the top beam of the Comcast Center building and, 16 months later, the Phillies team won the World Series.
Merely a sport’s superstition? I think not.
As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I own more than one Terrible Towel, and, as a Nittany Lions fan, I never wear my blue game jersey into Beaver Stadium for a Penn State “white out” game.
Mojo is mojo — don’t invoke bad karma needlessly. Keep William Penn’s statue and redesign Welcome Park to share the space with a Native American history exhibit. They coexisted peacefully and respectfully in Penn’s era. Why not today?
West Lampeter Township