Artist: Paul Manship
Owner: City of Philadelphia
Commissioned by the Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association)
Artist: J. Otto Schweitzer
Year: Dedicated July 7, 1934
(Rededicated November 11, 1994)
Type: Granite and Bronze
Aviator Park is part of the larger Fairmont Park system and is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway adjacent to The Franklin Institute and Moore College of Art + Design, at 223 N. 20th street. It serves as an open, green, family-friendly oasis. In 2007, the park underwent an extensive renovation with new paved walkways, plantings, benches, trash receptacles and light fixtures.
In addition to its relaxing green space, Aviator Park also hosts a number of public artworks including the Aero Memorial by Paul Manship and the All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors by J. Otto Schweizer
The Aero Memorial is a gilded bronze sculpture by Paul Manship, commissioned by the Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association). The memorial is a tribute to those aviators who died in World War I, and it was initiated by the Aero Club of Pennsylvania in 1917 with the help of the Fairmount Park Art Association. The Aero Club donated modest funds into the Fairmount Park Art Association in 1917 for the creation of the memorial, and after years of fundraising, the Art Association was finally able to contact Paul Manship for the commission 1939. The idea for a celestial sphere was approved in 1944, and the sculpture was completed in 1948. Aero Memorial was dedicated on June 1, 1950. Aero Memorial is one of 51 sculptures included in the Association for Public Art's Museum Without Walls interpretive audio program for Philadelphia's outdoor sculpture
The monument is approximately 21.5 ft (6.55 m) tall, with a base approximately 17 ft (5.18 m) wide and 13.5 ft (4.11 m) deep. It is made of granite and the sculptures are of bronze.
The front features a "conspicuously Caucasian" female figure of Justice, who holds a laurel wreath in each hand representing Honor and Reward. She is flanked by three black soldiers on one side and three black sailors on the other, all in World War I uniforms. The reverse features four (again Caucasian) female figures representing War, Liberty, Peace, and Plenty; a dedication plaque, and a bas relief of the Seal of Pennsylvania. The monument is crowned by four American eagles guarding The Torch of Life. All the bronze figures are approximately 6 ft (1.83 m) tall. Justice stands two steps higher than the others, and there is an inscription below her:
"Erected by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in Honor of Her Colored Soldiers."
The bronze dedication plaque on the reverse reads:
"To Commemorate the Heroism and Sacrifice of All Colored Soldiers Who Served in the Various Wars Engaged in By the United States of America That a Lasting Record Shall Be Made of Their Unselfish Devotion to Duty As an Inspiration to Future Generations This Monument is Dedicated May 30, 1934",
followed by a list of commissioners. On the right side of the monument is a bronze shield listing:
"American Revolution / Civil War / Indian Wars", and on the left is a shield listing: "Spanish American War / Philippine Insurrection / World War."