Giant clothespin by Claes Oldenburg.

World's Largest Clothespin

Field review by the editors.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Big city centers tend to be hectic places. The confluence of traffic and pedestrians, especially during the business day, focuses one's attention on not killing pedestrians, or not being a killed pedestrian. Public art in these frantic spaces is sometimes intentionally large and jarring, to draw attention amid the urban noise.

Sculptor Claes Oldenburg was perfect for this civic art assignment, and the giant clothespin across from Philadelphia City Hall in Center City is both art commentary and tourist eye candy. Commissioned by the city in 1974 and erected in 1976, the 45-ft. tall rusting steel work resembles a traditional spring-clip to hang wet laundry on a line. It is completely out-of-character with the historic city hall, with its ornate windows, roof, and tower, apparently Oldenburg's goal.

Still -- it's been on display long enough that locals are essentially blind to it; other goofy civic art installations across the street and around town have softened the shock. Newer generations don't even recognize a clothespin, and might mistake it for some kind of utility tower or abstract sculpture of a former mayor. Update suggestion: A chip clip?

World's Largest Clothespin

Market St., Philadelphia, PA
In front of the Center Square Building, Market St. and 15th St.
Save to My Sights

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In the region:
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