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The Rocky Steps, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

December 28th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The Rocky Steps is the nickname given to the front steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They appear in the film Rocky, and four of its sequels, II, III, V and Rocky Balboa in which the eponymous character runs up the steps to the song, "Gonna Fly Now." Tourists and local residents often mimic Rocky's famous climb, a metaphor for an underdog or an everyman rising to a challenge. A bronze statue of Rocky was briefly placed at the top of the steps for the filming of Rocky III. This statue is now located at the bottom right of the steps and is a popular photo-op for visitors.

The top of the steps offers a commanding view of Eakins Oval, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Philadelphia City Hall.

In 2006, Rocky creator Sylvester Stallone recounted the genesis of the iconic scene. The film crew, bound to a tight budget, first identified the steps one night while looking for shooting locations around the city. Stallone first thought Rocky should carry his dog Butkus up the steps, but the dog proved too heavy for the scene to work. Still, the view from the top of the stairs convinced him to reshoot the scene without the dog. In Rocky Balboa, he carries his adopted dog Punchy up the steps.

In 1983, Sylvester Stallone commissioned A. Thomas Schomberg to create a bronze statue of Rocky. Three 2-ton, 10-foot copies were cast. One was installed atop the steps for the filming of Rocky III. Another was listed on eBay with a starting bid of US$5,000,000 to raise funds for the International Institute for Sport and Olympic History, but has failed to sell at that price or several times since at $1 million.

After filming was complete, a debate erupted in Philadelphia between the Art Museum and the City's Art Commission over the meaning of "art." City officials, who argued that the statue was not "art" but a "movie prop," eventually moved it to the front of the Wachovia Spectrum in South Philadelphia.

It was later returned to the Art Museum for the filming of Rocky V, Mannequin and Philadelphia, then brought back to the Spectrum. The statue was replaced with a simple set of footprints reading "Rocky."

On September 8, 2006, the Rocky statue was returned again to the Art Museum and placed on a pedestal in a grassy area near the foot of the steps to the right of the Museum. The unveiling ceremony included live music, the debut of the first full trailer for Rocky Balboa, and a free showing of the first Rocky movie. At the ceremony, Mayor John Street said that the steps were one of Philly's biggest tourist attractions, and that Stallone, a native New Yorker, had been gladly adopted by Philadelphia.

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