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UNIVERSITY HISTORY

Women at Penn:
Hill Square and the Commemoration of
125 Years of Women at Penn

Color image: architectural rendering of Hill Square planThe anniversary of 125 Years of Women at Penn was celebrated November 1-2, 2001. Two years later, in November 2003, artist Jenny Holzer's 125 Years, a curving walkway of text-based sculpture located in Hill Square, was dedicated in honor of the anniversary of 125 Years of Women at Penn.

Hill Square, bounded by Chestnut, Walnut, 33rd and 34th Streets, is suitably located across Chestnut Street from the site of Sergeant Hall, Penn's first women's dorm; across Walnut Street from Bennett Hall, home to the former College for Women; and next to Hill College House, which was built as the Women's Residence Hall. This is historical space for women at Penn.

The pathway includes granite benches and curbs, all inscribed with quotations from women at Penn representing views and opinions of Penn women over the 125 year period since they first enrolled at the University. At the path's midpoint, a wooden "bridge" crosses a low-lying area containing wetlands plantings.

  • Funding for this project, including landscaping and lighting as well as the diagonal walkway, was provided by the alumnae of the University.

    The Executive Committee, chaired by Judith Roth Berkowitz, included Constance L. Abrams, Mandee Heller Adler, Loretta A. Barrett, Susan Frier Danilow, Lee Spelman Doty, Mary Ann Baker Greenawalt, Wendy Marcus Greenfield, Christine Hikawa, Elsie Sterling Howard, Norma Peden Killebrew, Susanna E. Lachs, Deborah Marrow, Barbara G. Saidel, Lynne L. Tarnopol, Susan Molofsky Todres, M. Jane Williams, and Sandra D. Williamson.

    The Sculpture Committee, chaired by Deborah Marrow, included Cheri S. Friedman, Shelley D. Harrison, Catherine Holland, Diane Rosenberg Karp, Patricia Braun Silvers, and Allison Beth Weiss.

     

  • Design of the new Hill Square was a joint undertaking. Jenny Holzer, the New York sculptor famed for her text-based projects, created the granite benches and curbing, all inscribed with quotations relating to women at Penn, in collaboration with landscape architect, The Olin Partnership of Philadelphia, and lighting designer, L'Observatoire of New York.

     

  • Quotations for the benches and curbs were selected by Holzer from materials in Penn's University Archives. Quotations from Women at Penn, an illustrated exhibit available online, includes Holzer's selections.

     

Photographs courtesy of James R. Mann

Color photo: aerial view of Hill Square in the snow
Color photo: looking from Hill Square entrance at 33rd St. toward Law School
Color photo: one of sculptor Jenny Holzer's inscribed benches in Hill Square
Color photo: one of sculptor Jenny Holzer's inscribed curbs in Hill Square
Color photo: people crossing sculptor Jenny Holzer's bridge on Hill Square pathway

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