The Rocky Steps (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Rocky Steps
Photo by Valerie Everett

The 72 stone steps leading up to the East Entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, have become as iconic a symbol of the city as the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. The simple stone steps etched their way into American history not by being a site of America’s great fight for liberty and independence, but for their prominence as a symbol of victory over one’s self as displayed by Rocky Balboa, the character made famous by Sylvester Stallone in the Rocky films.

Now referred to commonly (though unofficially) as the Rocky Steps, this Philadelphia landmark has become both a powerful metaphor for rising to every challenge, as well as a popular tourist attraction for those visiting the city of brotherly love.

The museum and its famous steps were designed by Horace Trumbauer, C. Clarke Zantzinger and Charles L. Borie Jr. in the 1920s, and the building has been in continuous use since it was built in 1928. From the top of the steps there are views of Eakins Oval, Philadelphia City Hall, and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

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.