Tucked into a trail along the Wissahickon Creek lies one of Philadelphia’s most intriguing and inviting works of art. At 59 feet long, the Fingerspan bridge connects two sides of a deep ravine, allowing visitors the chance to view the creek from a breathtaking vantage point.
In 1987, internationally renowned artist and PAFA alumni, Jody Pinto, developed the 18,000-pound bridge. Fingerspan looks like an enormous finger built with weathering steel. Weathering steel, also known as COR-TEN, forms a protective layer of rust when exposed to the elements. Gradually, it blends harmoniously with the natural landscape. You can find weathering steel in other public sculptures throughout the city: The Clothespin, The Wedges.
The properties of weathering steel which make it so well suited to public art also apply to residential home design. Our recent listing at 2401 Emerald St. includes a corrugated COR-TEN facade, and we expect it will age marvelously.
We love Pinto’s use of weathering steel, as well as her finger-shaped design. Many of her works include imagery of the human body, and Fingerspan is no exception. Because it imprints itself on the on the landscape, the sculpture speaks to how humans leave their mark on the natural world.
Because the weathering steel material blends so harmoniously into the wooded landscape, the bridge is often difficult to spot until you’re very close. Looking like an outgrowth of the wooded forest, Fingerspan reflects on the interconnectedness between humans and the environment.
To visit Fingerspan, wear a sturdy pair of shoes and come prepared to do a bit of rugged hiking. The walk down the bridge isn’t very long, but it’s rather steep in some parts. If viewing the bridge by car, plan to park on Allens Lane in Mount Airy, and walk down Livezey Lane to the creek at a point where the dam and Canoe Club are visible. Turn left and follow the Orange hiking trail to a small steel footbridge, and climb stone steps to Fingerspan.