The Curse of Billy Penn

The Curse of William Penn (supposedly begun in March 1987) is an alleged curse sometimes used to explain the failure of professional sports teams based in the American city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to win championships in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. None of Philadelphia’s four major sports teams (baseball, football, basketball and ice hockey) has won a championship in its respective league since 1983, when the 76ers won the NBA title.

Origins of the Curse

Perched atop the City Hall building at Broad and Market Streets in Center City Philadelphia is a statue of William Penn, founder (and namer) of the city, and original proprietor of the then-British colony of Pennsylvania (meaning “Penn’s Woods”). By tradition — although not by law — no building in the city could ever rise above this statue; however, in March 1987, a glass skyscraper, known as One Liberty Place, was opened for business approximately three blocks away. It dwarfed the City Hall building, exceeding its height by a whopping 397 feet (121m), reaching 945 feet (288m) compared with the latter’s 548 feet (167m). Its sister scraper, Two Liberty Place, rising to 848 ft (258m), would soon follow.

Philadelphia sports teams had, up until then, enjoyed an admirable run of recent success, as in 1980 Major League Baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies had won the World Series, the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers had won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975, and the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers had won the championship in 1983.1 In fact, prior to 1980, the Phillies had appeared in only two other World Series, in 1915 and 1950.

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Update 10/29/08: I guess this page is useless now huh?