'More Inclusive Experience': Biden Admin Plans Removal of William Penn Statue From Philly Park

'The Penn statue … will be removed and not reinstalled,' Biden's National Park Service says

William Penn statue at Philadelphia's Welcome Park (IndependenceNPS/Twitter)
January 8, 2024

The Biden administration is planning to permanently remove a statue of William Penn from Philadelphia's Welcome Park to provide a "more inclusive experience for visitors," it announced in a press release.

The "proposed rehabilitation," which President Joe Biden's National Park Service unveiled Friday, calls to remove the statue and replace it with "an expanded interpretation of the Native American history of Philadelphia." The park is named after the ship that brought Penn to Philadelphia and also includes the site of Penn's home, known as the Slate Roof House. The administration hopes to finish the "rehabilitation" by 2026, when Americans will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the country's founding.

"The National Park Service proposes to rehabilitate Welcome Park to provide a more welcoming, accurate, and inclusive experience for visitors," the National Park Service release says. "The Penn statue and Slate Roof house model will be removed and not reinstalled."

The proposal prompted criticism from Pennsylvania Republicans, with House Minority Leader Bryan Cutler emphasizing "the mutual respect between Penn and Native tribes."

"The decision by President Biden and his administration to try and cancel Wiliam Penn out of whole cloth is another sad example of the left in this country scraping the bottom of the barrel of wokeism," Cutler said in a statement. "To remove Penn's statue to create a more inclusive environment takes [an] absurd and revisionist view of our state's history."

The National Park Service did not respond to a request for comment. The agency's website notes that the Welcome Park rehabilitation was initially aimed at replacing outdated infrastructure—such as "insufficient lighting" and "a lack of cameras"—with "only minimal" design changes. After an array of Native American tribes reached out to the agency, however, "the National Park Service … revised the design for Welcome Park to include expanded interpretation of the Native American history of Philadelphia," its site says.

The National Park Service has not finalized its plan to remove the Penn statue—the public has until Jan. 21 to comment on the proposal.