William Penn statue curses Philadelphia

By Jessica Hagerty
October 6, 2006

Shane Evans

The curse of William Penn is an apparent curse that some Philadelphia sports fans use to explain the losses of their professional sports teams since 1987. Since then, the Philadelphia Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers have not been able to win a championship.

The bronze statue of William Penn, stands atop Philadelphia City Hall.

After the construction of City Hall in 1901, the government decided on an informal agreement, a “gentlemen’s agreement”, that it would remain the tallest building in the city. Because there was no legal agreement, contractors broke the tradition.

One Liberty Place was built in March of 1987, exceeding City Hall’s height by over 500 feet. Its sister building, Two Liberty Place, was quick to follow in construction. This second skyscraper also dwarfed City Hall by towering a near 400 feet over.

It was just before these two buildings when Philadelphia sports had seen their last run of success.

The National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers had won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975. However, they proceeded to lose the Stanley Cup Finals in 1987, a mere two months after One Liberty Place was built. They failed to win the Stanley Cup in the finals again in 1997.

The National Basketball Association’s 76ers had also just won a championship in 1983; however, their luck was also about to change. It was in 2001 when the 76ers again made their way to the NBA finals but lost.

Major League Baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies had won the 1980 World Series and it was until 1993 when they again made it to the final game and lost.

It wasn’t until 2005 when the National Football League’s Philadelphia Eagles made it to Super Bowl XXXIX and also fell to the New England Patriots.

“Sure, the Eagles went to the Super Bowl and fell short, but I don’t think it had to do with any curse. The Patriots were a well-coached team and the Eagles’ comeback simply fell short,” said Philadelphia Eagles website/publications coordinator, Chris McPherson.

The fans of Philadelphia are also known to dress Penn in sports attire when the team is doing well.

For instance, an Eagles jersey was put on the statue when the team went to the Super Bowl in 2005. Forcing the statue to wear such attire is an aspect of the apparent curse.

Since the dressing of the statue, some sports fans are in complete

opposition because of the obvious lack of league championships.

Philadelphia sports fan and junior secondary English education major, Michael Pio said, “The curse is a lot of superstition that gets into people’s heads, just don’t touch the stature and we’ll be fine.”

McPherson believes the curse is just another excuse for the losses.

“The fans in this city are extremely passionate and are starving for a championship. They are looking for an explanation as to why a city with four professional sports teams has not won a world championship since the Sixers in 1983.”

Whether the curse is a superstition or just a well-known excuse for the unsuccessful Philadelphia sports, Philly fans still have the future teams to look forward to, such as this year Eagles team according to McPherson.

“The Eagles boast an explosive offense and have a lot of key players who returned from injuries last season, most notably Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb. If there is any time to silence fears of a curse, the best time might be now.”

The Loquitur welcomes your comments on this story. Please send your comments to Loquitur@googlegroups.com. The editors will review your comments each week and make corrections if warranted.

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Jessica Hagerty

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