Pennsylvania Railroad War Memorial (1950)

by Walker Kirtland Hancock (1901 - 1998)

Photo Caption: Photo Caitlin Martin © 2015 for the Association for Public Art
  • Title

    Pennsylvania Railroad War Memorial

  • Artist

    Walker Kirtland Hancock (1901 - 1998)

  • Year

    1950; installed 1952

  • Location

    30th Street Station (interior), 30th and Market Streets

  • Medium

    Bronze, on black granite base

  • Dimensions

    Height 39′ (base 2′)

  • Themes

    War Memorials

Commissioned by Pennsylvania Railroad

Owned by property owner

At A Glance

  • Commissioned to honor the Pennsylvania Railroad employees who died in World War II

  • The pedestal bears the names of all 1,307 railroad employees who perished in the war

  • Artist Walker Hancock served in the military during World War II

  • Hancock also fashioned the statue of John Paul Jones for the William M. Reilly Memorial

Commissioned to honor the Pennsylvania Railroad employees who died in World War II, Walker Hancock’s heroic bronze presents the Archangel Michael, angel of the Resurrection, lifting a lifeless soldier in his arms. The angel’s great wings point directly upward as he frees the youth from the flames of battle. The high columns of 30th Street Station form a dramatic backdrop, and the pedestal bears the names of all 1,307 railroad employees who perished in the war. Many people recall the sculpture from the early scenes of the film Witness.

His best-known angel is the compassionate Michael of 30th Street Station

During World War II Hancock served in the military – spending part of the time with an overseas unit concerned with fine arts and archives – and when the hostilities ended he brought considerable personal feeling to the creation of war memorials. He contributed three angels of victory to the tower of the Lorraine American Cemetery in Saint-Avold, France, but his best-known angel is the compassionate Michael of 30th Street Station. Poet Robert Frost voiced his admiration for this monument. Hancock also fashioned the statue of John Paul Jones for the William M. Reilly Memorial in Philadelphia.

The unveiling of the memorial on August 10, 1952 was attended by railroad officials, General Omar N. Bradley of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the sculptor himself. A young railroad employee, Robert E. Laws, pulled the unveiling tapes to reveal the sculpture to the public.

Pennsylvania Railroad War Memorial at 30th Street Station
Photo Caitlin Martin © 2015 for the Association for Public Art

Adapted from Public Art in Philadelphia by Penny Balkin Bach (Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 1992) and Sculpture of a City: Philadelphia’s Treasures in Bronze and Stone by the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art) (Walker Publishing Co., New York, 1974).

 

RESOURCES

Loading map...

More artworks