Uploaded on Aug 23, 2011
Giants in the Park - Lincoln Park Statues
o My own exploration of the portrait statues in Lincoln Park was inspired by Krista August's, book—Giants in the Park. Shakespeare, on the cover, was unveiled in 1894, on the day in April in which he was born and also died.
o Lincoln Park was once the Chicago City Cemetery but cholera epidemics inspired it's evolution to park land.
o Beginning my tour at North Ave and Astor St, sits the dignified father of modern dentistry, Green Vardiman Black.
o A short stroll away stands the 12-foot bronze of Abraham Lincoln. At the commemoration in 1887 the Chicago Tribute wrote:
"The entire aspect is so like the man, so devoid of artifice... that in spite of the homely features, it becomes majestic."
o 35,000 people were once buried in the City Cemetery. Those graves not relocated before the Chicago fire, were lost. The Couch monument alone remains --a reminder of these "hidden truths."
o Across the street bearing his name stands the 17th century, French explorer, LaSalle, who discovered the Ohio and Illinois rivers. His statue was deemed appropriate in the park because, like Lincoln, he was "felled by an assassin's hand", and "gave his life for a great idea."
o Honored for being a brilliant scientist, statesman and everyman, Franklin's statue was commissioned in 1895.
o Cheering crowds accompanied the procession of militia and veterans to the unveiling of Grant's statue, commissioned just hours after his death. A journal at the time stated, "It is fit that this monument in honor of the great soldier should be placed in a park bearing the name of the illustrious President who chose him with wonderful sagacity...."
o Behind this charming "rest station" and adjacent the zoo perches Hans Christian Andersen, Danish writer of beloved children's fairy tales, among them, The Ugly Duckling. He was the pride of Chicago's citizens of Andersenville.
o German-American citizens celebrated another esteemed writer, Friedrich von Schiller, sited over the lawn of the conservatory gardens where, "...he himself would love to linger were he here with us today..." The greatest writer of the English language is immortalized by the sculptor, William Partridge who imagined Shakespeare's image in what he called, "the work of my life....a labor of love."
o On a modest knoll just above North Pond, and the restaurant named after it, is the Illinois governor who fought bravely in the civil war and was a close friend of Lincoln's—Richard Oglesby. He famously was at Lincoln's side when he died and was a very popular, three-term governor.
o Kate Sturgis Buckingham may best be remembered for the fountain that bears her name but believing history had not given Alexander Hamilton his due, she commissioned this statue—appropriately gold leafed— as befitting the First Secretary of the US Treasury.
o One term Illinois governor, John Altgeld, became infamous for pardoning the remaining Haymarket anarchists, the ones not previously executed. He is remembered as a "friend of the common people..." who "never feared to stand with them."
o German-American residents of Chicago, raised the money to build the 25 foot high bronze Goethe, not a portrait, but a symbolic statue to honor Goethe's life and work. The base of the statue reads, "Mastermind of the German People."
Giants in the Park is filled with more fascinating information and amusing details. A map indicates the locations of all the statues in the book. I hope you enjoyed the tour and are inspired to do the walk yourself.
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