The Rocky Steps
The Rocky Steps Page
The Rocky Steps
Philadelphia's most popular attraction

Posted Wednesday December 29th 2021

The Rocky Steps

72 famous steps that take visitors from Kelly Drive and Martin Luther King Junior Drive to the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Actor Sylvester Stallone first made the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art famous in his 1976 rags-to-riches drama Rocky — the tale of a scrappy boxer from South Philly named Rocky Balboa who rises to national fame when he's selected to square off with a heavyweight champion Apollo Creed.

In the movie, Rocky jogs up the steps during one of his early morning workout sessions just before his climactic fight against Creed.

Tens of thousands of people jog up and down the Rocky steps every year.

Jogging up the Rocky Steps
Running up the steps

Jogging down the Rocky Steps

The History:
For decades, the 72 stone steps known today as the "Rocky Steps" were simply the way to get to the The Philadelphia Museum of Art, one of the largest art museums in the entire country, home to over 300,000 works of art spanning 2,000 years.

Then in 1976 the motion picture "Rocky" was released, and the steps suddenly became famous. While training for his big fight, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) is depicted in an intense training montage that culminates with Rocky ascending the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Upon reaching the top, Rocky celebrates as the cameras pan to show Philadelphia's Skyline in the background as Rocky jumps up and down with his arms in the air, stretched in triumph.

Rocky II:
In "Rocky II," Rocky once again embarked on a training montage that ended up becoming more famous than the one that preceded it. In this montage, Rocky runs all over Philadelphia as excited children join him until once again the montage culminates with Rocky ascending the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Rocky Steps were also subsequently used in the films Rocky V and later Rocky Balboa.

Rocky Steps Facts:
  • A bronze statue of Rocky Balboa was placed at the top of the steps during the filming of Rocky III.
  • This bronze Rocky statue was moved after filming and is now located at the bottom right of the steps.
  • Tens of thousands of people recreate the run up the steps each year.
  • In the lead up to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Dawn Staley, Basketball Hall of Fame member and Philadelphia native ran up the steps as part of the Olympic torch relay.
  • The scene of Rocky running up the steps was made possible by the Steadicam, a new technology at the time that allowed a camera to be stabilized on a special mount for action shots.
  • The steps are the backdrop for the annual Independence Day celebration.
  • The 2017 NFL Draft, the first to be held outside, was held from the steps.
  • The Rocky Steps were ranked 2nd of the 10 most famous movie locations by Break Media's website Screen Junkies.

At the top of the Rocky Steps
At the top of the Rocky Steps

At the top of the Rocky Steps

3:13 the steps start at 2:00

The scene where Rocky climbs the steps:

Rocky Statue
The Rocky Statue

The Rocky Statue
The Rocky Statue:
In 1980, Sylvester Stallone commissioned A. Thomas Schomberg to create the Rocky Statue for the Rocky III movie that came out in 1982. The Rocky Statue is a 10 foot tall, 2 ton bronze statue of Sylvester Stallone, as the character of Rocky. After the filming was completed, the statue was left to the City of Philadelphia and stood at the top of the Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. However, the placement of the statue set off a debate on whether or not the movie prop could be considered "art" and deserved to be in front of a world class art museum. A compromise was eventually reached and today the Rocky Statue has a permanent home just to the right at the bottom of the Rocky Steps where it has turned into one of Philly's top tourist attractions.

Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Rocky Steps lead up to the incredible PMOA. The Washington Monument Fountain in the foreground.

Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia Museum of Art is on Google Arts & Culture:

Washington Monument Fountain
Washington Monument Fountain

Washington Monument Fountain
Washington Monument Fountain:
Designed by Rudolf Siemering, the majestic fountain was dedicated in 1897. The bronze and granite sculpture features General Washington astride his horse. An impression of Washington's face was made and used to replicate his likeness.

Washingtons Face

The 44' high, 3-tiered monument depicts the man, his times, & his country.

The middle section represents Washington's place in US history: the period leading up to the Revolutionary War, the victory, and the aftermath.

Two females allegorically represent America. One is the rallying cry of battle, and the other, Liberty as she crushes the chains of oppression from Britain.

The base of the monument represents Washington's country.

There are four fountains, including statues of Native Americans, representing great rivers of the colonial US: the Delaware, Hudson, Potomac, and Mississippi. On the sides of each fountain: buffalo, elk, moose, a bear and a bull.

Washington Monument Fountain

The 72 stone steps leading up to the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, have become known as the "Rocky Steps" as a result of a scene from the film Rocky.
Rocky Steps:
  • Tourists often mimic Rocky's famous climb, a metaphor for an underdog or an every man rising to a challenge
  • A bronze Rocky statue was briefly situated at the top of the steps for the filming of Rocky III. This statue, now located at the bottom right of the steps, is a popular photo opportunity 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: (while filming the 1976 movie) the film crew, bound by a tight budget, identified the steps one night while searching for filming locations around the city. Stallone first thought Rocky should carry his dog Butkus up the steps, but the big bull mastiff proved too heavy for the scene to work. Still, the view from the top of the stairs inspired him to re-shoot the scene without the dog. Also in Rocky Balboa, Rocky lifts his dog Punchy when he reaches the top of the steps. The closing credits of Rocky Balboa show a montage of dozens of people running up the steps.

This scene was one of the first uses in a major film of the Steadicam, a stabilized camera mount that allows its operator to walk and even climb steps while smoothly filming.

Making the Statue:
Before Rocky III, released in 1982, Stallone commissioned A. Thomas Schomberg to create a bronze statue of Rocky. Three 2-ton, 10-foot tall copies were to be cast.

  1. One was installed atop the steps for the filming of Rocky III, and was ultimately relocated to the bottom of the steps.
  2. The second Rocky was in the San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum in San Diego, California, until it closed in 2017. The statue was then put up for auction and purchased by an anonymous buyer who was later revealed to be Sylvester Stallone himself.
  3. In 2006, Schomberg realized the casting mold for the statue was beginning to decay, and the third and final edition of the statue was cast in bronze and put up for auction on eBay to raise funds for the International Institute for Sport and Olympic History. It is currently exhibited at the Schomberg Studios Gallery in Denver, Colorado.
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19130

The Rocky Steps