Who can forget the inspirational, iconic 1976 film Rocky? This classic, starring Sylvester Stallone as Rocky “The Italian Stallion” Balboa, takes place in Philadelphia. Many Philadelphia landmarks are seen and referenced in the movie, including Philadelphia City Hall, The Italian Market, Pat’s King of Steaks, and the Spectrum Arena (the final scene during the fight; however while the Spectrum Arena is supposedly the site of the event, the scene was actually filmed at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles).
However, one of the most popular scenes in the movie occurs during the dramatic climax of Rocky’s morning training routine — a run up the steps at the front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art — while the film’s famous theme song, “Gonna Fly Now,” plays.
Many people who visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art like to take a run up the steps Stallone scaled in Rocky. Spend a day at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and you will surely see joggers, tourists, and locals of all ages taking triumphant, Rocky-esque runs up the dozens of steps which lead to the grand entrance of the Philadelphia landmark.
This scene has forever etched the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in pop culture. Stallone again climbed the steps in four of the subsequent Rocky sequels, including the 2006 film Rocky Balboa. Parodies of the scene can be found on shows like The Simpsons, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Hey Arnold, and in films such as In Her Shoes and Eddie Murphy’s take of The Nutty Professor.
The Famous “Rocky” Statue
A. Thomas Schomberg was hired by Stallone to create a bronze statue of Rocky. A 10-foot-tall, 2-ton copy of the statue was placed atop the steps during the filming of Rocky III in 1982. However, the statue did not last long at that location. Charges that the statue was not an example of “art” led to it later being relocated to The Wachovia Spectrum, a major arena in southern Philadelphia. The statue returned to its spot atop the steps briefly when filming was done for Rocky V, Philadelphia, and Mannequin, and has since been moved to a prominent spot in the grass just northeast of the famous steps.
Replacing the statue atop the steps is now a plate, inset among the large paving tile, with two Converse sneaker prints and the word “ROCKY” inscribed.
How You Can Climb the Rocky Steps
Climbing the Rocky steps is a highly popular activity for tourists to do. The Philadelphia Museum of Art, chartered in 1876 for the Centennial Exposition, is located at 26th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. A parking area is located across the street from the steps, in Eakin’s Oval. Those in wheelchairs and or others unable to ascend the entire flight of steps can reach the top of the steps using the parking area on the “Upper Terrace” of the museum property, which is easily accessible via Kelly Street.
Access to the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is absolutely free of charge. However, admission is charged for non-members of the museum wanting to tour the inside of the facility. Admission is generally $16 for adults, $14 for seniors, $12 for ID-carrying students, and $12 for all ages 13-18. The museum is free for visitors under the age of 13.
To find out more about The Philadelphia Museum of Art, check out the institution’s web site or call the art museum at (215) 763-8100.