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What Happens When A Small-Town Family Visits The "World's Largest"... Whatever!

BIG stuff in Philadelphia, PA

Claes Oldenburg

The world’s largest clothespin! The Girl couldn’t wait to get out of the car. The Boy thinks we’re crazy.

There are roadside attractions in Philadelphia, although most of them are best enjoyed on foot. The public outdoor art installations we saw in Philadelphia thoroughly charmed me, because there are quite a few BIG pieces!


Claes Oldenburg sculpture in Philadelphia, PA

I’ve become a fan of Swedish American sculptor Claes Oldenburg, best known for his public art installations worldwide which feature immense replicas of familiar objects. He thinks BIG!

Of course, our first order of business in Philadelphia was seeing Clothespin — the world’s largest clothespin — created by Oldenburg in 1976. It’s located in Centre Square Plaza on Market Street across from the City Hall, which happens to be the largest municipal building in the U.S. The 45-ft. tall clothespin was made from 10 tons of Cor-Ten and stainless steel.

The Paint Torch is Oldenburg’s most recent work in Philly, and was just installed on Cherry Street last year. This four-ton brush is five stories tall! It looks like an artist has jammed it at a 60 degree angle into the sidewalk, leaving a blob of paint on the ground. We didn’t get to see it at night, but the paint on the brush and the paint blob are lit from within by synchronized LEDs.

We also didn’t get to see the other oversized Oldenburg piece in Philadelphia — the 16-foot Split Button in Levy Park on the University of Pennsylvania campus. Next time!

Claes Oldenburg

The Paint Torch by Claes Oldenburg

The Board Game Art Park, Philadelphia, PA

We had no choice but to visit Municipal Services Building Plaza at 15th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard on a rainy morning. But we still enjoyed visiting the Board Game Art Park, home to the multi-piece installation, “Your Move,” created in 1997 by artists Daniel Martinez, Renee Petropoulis, and Roger White.


"Your Move" outdoor art installation in Philadelphia

Spread over the concrete square were oversized sculpted game pieces from familiar board game classics like Monopoly, Sorry, Parcheesi, dominoes, checkers and chess.


Um, Matt, I don’t think you should do that…

Other BIG things we found in Philadelphia

The Comcast Experience Video Wall  — the world’s largest four-millimeter LED screen.

The giant walk-through heart – the largest of its kind in the U.S. – at the Franklin Institute.


  1. April 24, 2012 @ 11:06 am

    I love this side of Philly! I haven’t seen the paint brush yet but will be sure to get down there at night so we can see it all lit up. Thanks for showing me a little something new in my hometown 🙂

    • Traci Suppa said,
      April 24, 2012 @ 8:25 pm

      Right behind the paint brush (it was behind me as I took this picture) is another piece of sculpture. It’s actually a vintage military plane stuck nose first into the ground, as if it crashed there. The interior of the cabin is now being used as a greenhouse. Very cool!

  2. Elizabeth said,
    April 24, 2012 @ 12:01 pm

    Have you seen the street, (is it South St? not sure) with all the mirror mosaics on buildings? Love that street.

    • Traci Suppa said,
      April 24, 2012 @ 8:24 pm

      Yes, the Magic Gardens! We drove past it — really slowly because traffic was horrible on South Street — so I got a pretty good look at it!

  3. Mike said,
    April 24, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

    What about the World’s Largest Cheesesteak?

  4. eb said,
    April 24, 2012 @ 6:58 pm

    I’m so glad you posted this!! I will be in Philly in May and will definitely check this out. I’ll also be traveling up to NY so hoping I can cross the Hudson walking bridge too.

    • Traci Suppa said,
      April 24, 2012 @ 8:22 pm

      Yay! If you’re coming to the Hudson Valley, you also need to visit Chomsky, the 13-ft garden gnome!

  5. Kristina said,
    April 27, 2012 @ 7:38 am

    Good Ideas !!! 🙂

  6. NYCSingleMom said,
    May 8, 2012 @ 9:49 am

    Darn we missed the paintbrush but the Board game is my fave. It’s hard not like it.

  7. Dan said,
    June 4, 2012 @ 7:29 am

    Thanks for sharing the pictures, I never knew such cool attractions existed in Philly. They are on my to see list next time I am there.
    Shame the weather sucked for you.

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