Tucked away behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a life-size bronze cast of a fisherman gazes out over the banks of the Schuylkill River. Designed by Ellen Fletcher, the sculpture titled “Celebration of Water” first assumed this precarious perch in 1989 to complement the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center—a center that educates the public about the history of the Schuylkill watershed.
Despite being a relatively new addition to the riverbank, this fisherman has already had a rather tumultuous experience on the Schuylkill. Sitting so close to the water, he periodically disappears beneath the water. When Hurricane Floyd hit in 1999, a 60-foot tree that had been downed barreled into the sculpture, knocking it into the river.
The fisherman was swept away, and remained submerged for about six years until a group of divers discovered him downstream and returned him to his original perch. Nevertheless, you can find him today in that same spot on the riverbank, looking unperturbed in his galoshes and bucket hat, as he pays tribute to the river that has sustained the city since its birth.
Update as of June 2021: The fisherman is missing from his perch again, leaving just his lunchbox behind.
Know Before You Go
The sculpture is located just off the Schuylkill River Trail.
From the south, after passing under the Spring Garden Bridge turn left and look for the spiral stairs leading down to the river. The sculpture will be on the left a little farther down the footpath.
From the north, turn right just past the southernmost portion of the Water Works, and follow the stairs down to the waterfront. From there, turn left follow the trail along the river until you reach the sculpture.