SITUATION: For many years, Philadelphia’s Southwest neighborhoods prided themselves on being thriving centers of the working class. For many years, Elmwood Park, located at 71st and Buist Avenue, anchored the community and provided a place to recreate and enjoy the outdoors for neighborhood residents. After the park experienced a brief downturn, the Friends of Elmwood Park community organization stepped up to lead a revitalization with a monument to the neighborhood’s laborers at its heart. JJ White was brought in to donate time, labor, and materials for the project.
CHALLENGES: Elmwood Park is located in a residential neighborhood with lots of pedestrian traffic and children at play. As with most public art projects, funding was at a premium and the project needed to be completed with a minimal budget.
SOLUTIONS: JJ White maintained a secure construction site and prioritized the safety of not just our employees, but the surrounding public as well. JJ White operated with an aggressive schedule to minimize neighborhood disruptions and keep noise to a minimum. In order to alleviate budgetary issues, JJ White donated time, labor, and materials to the Monument’s worthy cause.
RESULTS: The completion of the Labor Monument added yet another beautiful piece to Philadelphia’s acclaimed Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association). The monument serves as an “outdoor history lesson” detailing the contributions of organized labor to the city and the country. The 7 tables are designed to resemble the buttons worn by the city’s different labor groups while the indigo blue pavers represent the denim often worn by laborers regardless of their trade. The Labor Monument has revitalized Elmwood Park and serves as a reminder of the neighborhood’s working class history.
ARTIST: John Kindness
PHOTOS: Greg Benson