The Enduring Bronze of The Alarm

       The oldest statue in Lincoln Park commands a remote lakefront location, slightly north of Diversey Harbor. This life-sized, naturalistic bronze depicts an Ottawa family of Indians, the mother, the father and the baby with a wolf-like dog.*

An old photo shows that the bronze is not in its original form.

Feather forms once decorated the male figure's headpiece. A collar adorned 'his' neck, perhaps suggesting a necklace of bear claws.  Reportedly a tomahawk was held in hand, although old photos reveal what looks to be a peace pipe.

A handle or guard, barely visible in either image, was attached to the papoose. 

From my own visits to the statue, it's obvious the dog's tail is also broken off.

The Alarm was originally located in the area of our Lincoln Park Zoo.

Originally bronze bas reliefs, pictures that had sculptural form, decorated the base.  Three of these original reliefs were reportedly stolen.  Pink-granite incised reliefs replicate the original images and are titled The Corn Dance, The Peace Pipe, Forestry, and The Hunt.

One is likely surprised to learn that details are missing because it appears entirely whole and remains a dignified representation of a noble people who once inhabited this Great Lakes region.

The monument is titled The Alarm and was donated to Lincoln Park by Martin Ryerson (1818 - 1887), who commissioned New York-born artist John Joseph Boyle to honor his early friends.  As a young man, Ryerson had traded furs with the Ottawa Indians.  

In creating this commemorative art, Ryerson involved himself to ensure a sympathetic and historically accurate portrayal.

Ryerson spoke at the 1884 unveiling ceremony before one hundred of Chicago's early citizens and said in part:

      "I have caused the construction of this statue to commemorate the Ottawa race of Indians with whom I spent several years of my early manhood.  While with them I saw much that was good and noble and I looked upon them as my friends.  There are but few white people now living who understand that race as I did a half a century ago . . . I therefore hope ... that this statue will serve to show posterity for all time to come the opinion in which some of his co-existent white men held the Indian."

Sculptor John Joseph Boyle (1851 - 1917)

The success of The Alarm inspired Philadelphia to commission Boyle to create an Indian group for their fair city.  Consequently, he rendered The Stone Age, which depicts an Indian mother with two babes and a bear cub at her feet.

The Stone Age, completed 1887, graces Fairmount Park, Philadelphia.

Video designed and produced by Kristin Noelle Smith


* The Alarm is also the oldest statue on Chicago Park District land, in terms of being the earliest installation. 


The Vanishing Beethoven

Forty-six years ago, this month, a Beethoven bust vanished from Chicago's Lincoln Park.  

In comparison to photo at end of blog, this image appears to show the pedestal to have been vandalized.

Prior to its mysterious disappearance, Ludwig's likeness had graced Lincoln Park gardens for seventy-four years, 1897 to 1971.

According to this postcard -- which features the Shakespeare statue at a distance -- this country-style garden was once named Hardy Flower Garden, although I have never seen this name used any other place.

The garden that the Beethoven bust once adorned is sometimes referred to as the English gardens and hosts a bronze of the English bard, the Star of Poets, William Shakespeare.

Photo from 1899 book has caption which reads "Country Flower Garden looking north."

Beethoven was purposefully placed close to and facing the Friedrich von Schiller statue (1886), which faces the Lincoln Park Conservatory and formal gardens.  A 'dialogue' between the two portrait statues was sought since Schiller's poem "Ode to Joy" (written 1785) inspired Beethoven's final complete symphony, his Symphony No. 9 (composed 1824)

Both works rapturously celebrate the unity of all mankind.

Reportedly, the Beethoven bust had inscribed on its pedestal, "Alle menschen werden brueder," All men become brothers, words from the chorus of Beethoven's 9th symphony as well as from "Ode to Joy."

Bust modeled by Danish American sculptor Johannes Gelert, the same artist who sculpted Lincoln Park's Hans Christian Andersen statue.

The benefactor of the artwork was Carl Wolfsohn, a Chicago music teacher and conductor.  On the day of the unveiling on June 19, 1897 he spoke to the crowd and said,

"My heart is full of gratitude that fate has enabled me to give the city of my adoption and its people this gift.  Beethoven's genius has been the safeguard in my long musical career...I have felt it a thousand times what Beethoven said of his own music ...., 'I fear not the fate of my music; it cannot fare ill.  He who comprehends it will be free of all woe which burdens others."

Beethoven Symphony No. 9 — Ode to Joy (Excerpt)


Books about Sculpture: Topping the Dome

     The "Freedom" statue by Thomas Crawford (1814 - 1857) was installed in 1863 high atop the U.S. Capitol Building. The form dons a Roman helmut and an eagle head with feathers, but this was not the artist's original vision.  

Richard Novak's "Topping the Dome" takes a closer look a this sky-scraping public art. Through engaging storytelling, Novak illuminates pre-Civil War history, personalities, and conflicts. The history is important, surprising, uplifting.  

For the first time, the reader will actually see and understand the beautiful details of this distant but iconic American sculpture.

Topping the Dome

Another major monument by Crawford is the Washington Monument in Richomond Virginia.

Washington Monument, Richmond Virginia
Washington Monument, Richmond, Virginia (1869)

Thomas Crawford (1813 - 1857)
Crawford was the son of Irish immigrants and was probably born in New York City.


Linne's Missing Muses

In stone 'twas said that
four muses had Carl Linne.
Time stole them away.

--David Ratowitz*

The same year that Chicago's towering Ulysses S. Grant equestrian statue was unveiled, Lincoln Park also welcomed a memorial to a naturalist, donated by the Swedes of Chicago.  

From 1891 to 1976, a portrait statue of Carl von Linne faced south, from the southeast corner of Fullerton and Stockton Drive.  In March 1976, this massive form was moved to its new home on the Midway Plaisance at the University of Chicago.

Linne Statue at Fullterton and Stockton

Carl von Linne (1707 - 1778) was a Swedish scientist, most famous for formalizing the system of naming plants and animals.  His nicknames include: the Father of Taxonomy, the Flower King, the Prince of Botanists.

Chicago's statue duplicates the Stockholm, Sweden bronze by Frithiof Kjellberg (1836–1885).

This duplicate of a Stockholm monument was designed to include four female figures to celebrate the four sciences in which Linne was distinguished: zoology, medicine, mineralogy, and botany.

The fifteen foot Linne figure atop the massive base reached a height of thirty-nine feet.

The tired and true fate of these female forms is that they deteriorated and were vandalized. When the statue was relocated from Lincoln Park, the badly damaged muses were removed. The Swedish American Museum in Andersonville has remnants of these ruined forms on exhibit.

Image shows portions of the arms of the muses broken off.

These zinc and iron muses were easily broken because they were models (from Sweden) intended to be used in casting permanent bronzes.  Short on money and interest, the models were mounted in haste in March 1893, in preparation for the World's Fair that year.

The Swedish American Museum has well organized records on the history of the Carl von Linne statue thanks to the tireless work of Selma Jacobson (1892 - 2000).**  Once described as the grande dame of Chicago's Swedish American community, Selma advocated for the relocation and restoration of the Linne statue, which included her flying to Stockholm in 1983 for the purpose of photographing the original muses. Her hope was that the monument's original design could at some point be realized. 

With the permission of the Swedish American Museum, below are select images detailing these interesting lost figures. These images were captured by a ninety-one-year-old Selma Jacobson on her trip to Stockholm in 1983.

Zoology was focused on a butterfly with a crane-like bird at her side.

Mineralogy studied a quartz rock and had a map for reference.

Botany held a flower and a magnifying glass, and a flowering plant decorated the ground near her feet.  (second photograph below is from another source)

Medicine grasped a mortar and the Rod of Asclepius (the snake and staff), a symbol associated with healing and medicine.

Next time you visit the Midway Plaisance at the University of Chicago, look for this massive likeness, a fifteen foot portrait mounted to a height of thirty-nine feet.

Since 1982, Chicago has a second memorial of the Swedish scientist. The Chicago Botanic Garden hosts "Carolus Linnaeus" by Robert Berks (1922 - 2011).

To see the Frithiof Kjellberg (1836–1885) statue with all its intended glory, there is always the original in Stockholm.
Linne statue Stockholm (1885)

Thank you to the Swedish American Museum for access to their archives and for allowing me to post these images. 

*Thank you to David Ratowitz for the awesome haiku!

**Selma Jacobson spearheaded the work of documenting, preserving, and celebrating the history and traditions of Chicago's Swedish community. Her efforts resulted in the realization of the Swedish-American Museum in Andersonville and of the Swedish-American Archives of Greater Chicago at North Park University.

Another Linne statue in Lund, Sweden (1977)

More history on Linne and other Lincoln Park statues is documented in Giants in the Park. 



Gratitude to Eli Bates

Amputee, merchant,

Chicago philanthropist:

All hail Eli Bates

--David Ratowitz*


Considered the most successful portrait (statue) of Lincoln in existence, Lincoln the Man is set back, to dramatic effect, from Lincoln Park's southern boundary and entrance at North Avenue.

Standing Lincoln or Lincoln the Man by Augustus Saint Gaudens in Chicago
Circa 1900 to 1910

Gratitude to the monument's benefactor, Eli Bates, was expressed at the 1887 unveiling ceremony with a reading of Bates' biography, and in a permanent way with an inscription at the base, "THE GIFT OF ELI BATES."

Saint Gaudens Standing Lincoln commonly referred to as Lincoln the Man

Bates was a Chicago lumber merchant who left $40,000 in his 1881 will for a Lincoln statue for Lincoln Park.  In addition to funding important local institutions and charities, Bates' will also provided $15,000 for a Lincoln Park fountain. [amounts are roughly $1,000,000 and $370,000 in today's money]

Fountain in Chicago outside Lincoln Park Zoo and Conservatory
Bates Fountain (1887) is the centerpiece to the formal gardens outside Lincoln Park's Conservatory.

Chicago fountain outside Lincoln Park Conservatory and Lincoln Park Zoo


The tragedy, referenced in this article, that Bates faced as a boy resulted
in his leg being amputated.  He lived the rest of his life with a cork leg.

Like Lincoln, evidence suggests that Bates was a man of great 


Ten years following Bates' death, a memorial tablet in his honor was erected in the Unity Church which he helped found.  

Cathedral near Newberry Library
Unity Church (1873) was rebuilt at same Dearborn St. location after its first structure burnt down in the Fire. Kitty-corner to the Newberry Library (1893), it is today the Chicago Cathedral location for Harvest Bible Chapel.

Since Unity Church no longer resides at this Dearborn location, the Eli Bates Memorial tablet is no longer there.  

Historic Chicago church near Newberry Library
Interior view of Dearborn Street church where Bates Memorial tablet was originally installed.

At some point, Eli Bates Memorial tablet was moved to the Second Unitarian Church at 656 W. Barry.

Interior of Second Unitarian Church Chicago

interior of Second Unitarian Church in Chicago
Exterior view of Second Unitarian Church on Barry Street.

So the benefactor behind the important "Standing Lincoln" was himself loved, honored and respected by his peers, so much so that he too was honored posthumously with an enduring, albeit mostly forgotten, memorial.

Eli Bates was laid to rest in Graceland Cemetery.

Video designed and produced by Kristin Noelle Smith

Click above to watch this short video clip.

Giants in the Park books, lectures, tours, and art. 

Giants in the Park walking tour Chicgao

watercolor of Lincoln statue by Krista August

*Thank you to David Ratowitz for the haiku!