Created by Alexander Liberman, a Kyiv, Ukraine-born artist (then known as Kiev, Russia), the 30-ton Symbol was installed on the downtown pedestrian mall in 1978 at the intersection of West State St. and Wyman St.
The sculpture's intent is to pay homage to Rockford's industrial metal-bending factories, the traditional economic mainstay of the city. In 1984, Symbol was disassembled and later moved to its current location along the banks of the Rock River near the Auburn Street Bridge.
According to wikipedia.org, "After emigrating to New York in 1941, he began working for Condé Nast Publications, rising to the position of editorial director, which he held from 1962 to 1994.
Only in the 1950s did Liberman take up painting and, later, metal sculpture. His highly recognizable sculptures are assembled from industrial objects (segments of steel I-beams, pipes, drums, and such), often painted in uniform bright colors. In a 1986 interview concerning his formative years as a sculptor and his aesthetic, Liberman said, "I think many works of art are screams, and I identify with screams." His massive work The Way, a 65 feet (20 m) x 102 feet (31 m) x 100 feet (30 m) structure, is made of eighteen salvaged steel oil tanks, and became a signature piece of Laumeier Sculpture Park, and a major landmark of St. Louis, Missouri."