All Four Corners of Broad and Washington
|Stupid. Picture from philart.net|
It started in 1993, during the planning period for turning South Broad Street into the Avenue of the Arts. A contest was held to determine what pieces of public art would act as a symbol for this brave new world. After reviewing 476 submissions, 11 semi-finalists were chosen. Of those, two finalists made it to the end. One was by California artist Robert Coburn and the other was from Philaphile Ray King. Coburn's A-shaped Bells were chosen to line the Avenue and King's ugly fucking glass-and-stone towers were chosen as the "Gateway".
The assumption was made that new developments would be happening all the way down to Washington Avenue (HA!) so the work was to be installed at Broad and Washington, one of the city's saddest corners. The "Gateway" would be called Philadelphia Beacons and be a sculpture made of "light"(ugh). That is to say, 41-foot-tall 20-ton pillars with black granite bases, stainless steel rhombuses, and over 1000 squares/triangles of laminated glass. Sort of like if four tornadoes formed over a construction site and a bunch of raw materials ended up squished together into these nasty forms.
You'd think something like this would get built pretty quickly and we could sit here and lament their stupid choice (I'd hate to see the stuff they rejected!), but NO. Five years of dumbass bullshit preventing this thing from being built until the end of 1999. Ends up these monsters, which are 20 tons each, needed a 40 foot deep hole to sit in. King plotted spots for the holes to be bored, but when the stupid-ass Streets Department showed up they realized that the dig would interfere with pre-exiting utilities on the east side of Broad. They would need to put the eastern holes somewhere else.
Instead of just moving the holes over to a reasonable location, they threw the hole over to a spot right next to a ADA curb cut at the corner of the sidewalk. King freaked out because he thought that he could get sued if someone was injured because of his ugly-ass sculpture's proximity to the ramp. The city and the Streets Department were assholes about it. They refused to move the curb cut and refused to release him from all fault if someone sued. They also refused to dig the holes somewhere else.
|You can see in this picture how its right on the curb cut.|
The city finally caved in July 1999 and construction began. The glorified ass-poles were unveiled on December 24, 1999 and went on to disappoint everyone who has seen them since. Gateway to the Avenue of the Arts? More like Gateway To Two Shamefully Gigantic Empty Lots and a Bunch of Fast-food Places/Gas Stations. It sucks.