Stephen Foster's slave's toe.
Stephen Foster's slave's left big toe.

Stephen Foster's Lucky Toes

Field review by the editors.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

When is it appropriate to rub the big toe of a statue? When it's lucky. And perhaps you can double your luck by burnishing TWO big toes.

That's what you'll find attached to the Stephen Foster statue on the University of Pittsburgh campus. Only these toes don't belong to Foster -- they're on the appendages of Uncle Ned, a blind, toothless slave strumming a banjo at Foster's shod feet.

The statue dates from 1900, when it was put up to honor the composer of songs such as "Susanna," "Camptown Races," and other ditties. The statue has become more controversial over time -- some would even say offensive.

Still, Uncle Ned's toes show evidence of regular burnishing by uncounted visitors, or perhaps just students pausing for a rest between classes. The primary toe on the left foot dangles in the air over the statue's right knee. But don't neglect the right big toe!

Also see: Statue Burnishing Etiquette

Stephen Foster's Lucky Toes

University of Pittsburgh

Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA
On Forbes Ave., across the street from The Cathedral of Learning on the University of Pittsburgh campus. Next to the dinosaur.
Save to My Sights

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In the region:
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