Sunday, February 9, 2020

The Hadany Arch At The Lycoming Mall


The structure, designed  by Israeli artist Israel Hadany, stands at the entrance of the Lycoming Mall. It was commissioned by Philip Bergman, an Allentown Art Collector and former Hess department store executive.

Hadany's design was based upon mathematical principles, and sat on his drawing board for more than a year before they were completed.  Hadany then made a 3 foot tall model of the design.  During a visit to Israel, Philip Berman, chief executive officer and chairman of the board for the Hess store chain, saw the model and imagined how it would look reconstructed to giant proportions.

Bergman originally wanted to place the interpretive highway art piece over a highway in the Lehigh Valley, but the Pennsylvania Department of Highways would not approve that plan.

The arch was built by McDermott Brothers Co, a custom steel place fabricating firm in Allentown,  specializing in abstract sculptures.

The arch is an optical illusion, appearing to change shape as viewed from various angles.

"It's supposed to make a statement.  You come on it unsuspectingly on the road, and it envelopes you, and not just in one configuration" said Bergman.

The arches asymmetrical design makes it  appear to change from an arch, to a figure eight, to a wishbone, to a wavy line, depending on where you stand.

Stand to one side and it rises to a point.

Stand to the opposite side, and it appears flat on top.

From yet another view, it leans at a sharp angle.


The finished sculpture is 100 feet high and 56 feet wide.  It was made of eight parts held together by bolts and welds.  Each leg of the arch is anchored to a concrete foundation 30 feet down into the bedrock. It took 21 months to accomplish, and cost $250,000. When it was built, it was the largest structure of its kind in the country.


The steel used, Corten, is a specific steel that is designed for exposure to the elements. As it weathers, it develops a thick oxide rust coating that gives it a specific look but also protects it from any further corrosion -- perfect for an outdoor sculpture.  The oxide forms on the steels surface, and acts as a barrier to the moisture, oxygen and atmospheric contaminants, to prevent further corrosion of the steel. The longer the steel weathers, the more durable the brown oxide becomes.


The Arch was dedicated in a ceremony on December 5 1978

The arch is not often decorated, as it's difficult to work with the shape.  But in the late 1980's or early 90's, the mall draped a giant flag from the structure, and firefighters lit a giant torch on the top.
Phil Bergman with a statue of himself

Pennsylvania Illustrated called Philip Bergman "the most sensational patron of the arts in Pennsylvania." He made the Lehigh Valley a show place of metal sculptures.  By the end of 1979, it was estimated that there were more than two dozen massive pieces of sculpture throughout eastern Pennsylvania.

In addition to the Hadany Arch in Muncy, these works included: Dimaons, a giant pink inchworm also by Hadany; A 60 ton stand of steel trees at Lehigh University by Menashe Kadishman; A pair of boltest I-beam colossi at the Richland Mall, by Yehiel Shemi; and a  Zweygardt at the Lehigh Courthouse.

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3 comments:

  1. Excellent! Now I know where that weird I-beam sculpture at the Richland Mall came from! I have driven by it thousands of times, and just thought it was left over construction materials.

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  2. Interesting post. Thanks for writing this. I grew up near Muncy but never knew the story of the arch.

    What was the source of the pictures of the arch in the article. Is that available online? How can I read more about the design and construction of the Muncy Hadany arch?

    Would be great to see pictures of the arch with the torch or the flag. Or some of Hadany’s works in Pennsylvania.

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  3. this arch is in Muncy not williamsport. muncy twp, muncy, pa muncy address muncy, not williamsport. i get sick and tired of hearing that area referred to as williamsport

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