Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Bike Ride Through Lincoln Park

Well, after a big storm blew through this morning, the city had this weird layer of cool, moist air floating over it. It was good weather for biking, but it has been grey and hazy. So, bear with me if some of these photos are a bit gloomy.

Today's adventure was a brief ride up to the Lincoln Park Zoo, which takes me past some old-fashioned public monuments. Most of them are in odd places, set back away from all the trails and surrounded by clouds of mosquitoes. I guess they occupy an odd cultural space between historic interest and a kind of embarrassment over romantic realism.

The Alarm
"The Alarm" by John J. Boyle, 1884 (bronze)

This first one used to actually be IN the zoo, it was moved down the trail (to about 3000 N) to make way for the Ape House that went up in the 70s (which has, itself, now been replaced). Lumber magnate Martin Ryerson donated it to the city as a tribute to the Ottawa tribe. This was sculptor John Boyle's first commission, and its successful display in Philadelphia (before delivery) let to a successful career on the east coast.

Detail of base, facing north

When the statue was moved in 1975, it was discovered that the bronze tablets on the base had been stolen. There were four, each one depicting part of Ottawa life: "The Peace Pipe," "The Corn Dance," "Forestry" and "The Hunt." They were replaced with the granite copies that we see today.

Diversy Harbor
Diversey Harbor

I took a rest on the overpass at Diversey, and took a shot of the choppy lake. You can just make out a line of little boats, probably out for a sailing lesson.

Emmanuel Swedenborg monument, sculpted by Adoff Johnson, 1924
Just south of Diversey, lies another stolen statue. I passed this one for years, not knowing that previous to its disappearance in 1976, there was meant to be a bust on top; it had been replaced with a little granite pyramid. It's nice to have this little oddball of history back. Swedenborg was a 18th century mystic who had a large influence on the American Transcendentalists, but is largely forgotten about now outside of new age circles. The original bust was commissioned by the Bishop family, and the dedication was a big event, bringing out Calvin Coolidge among others.

Lincoln Park Zoo, looking toward downtown Chicago

Hey, here's my turn-around point. I wanted to stop and have some ice cream, but the only thing open was the fancy wine bar at the Cafe Brauer. Rich people, pfffft.

Belmont Boats
Belmont Harbor
On the way back, I had to check out this new playground. It has soft sculptural boats, and "water" made of recycled rubber.

"Kwa-Ma-Rolas," Tony Hunt, 1986

And I stopped to say hello to an old friend. I would spot this from the family car whenever we happened to pass by on Lake Shore Drive, but had no way to visit the mysterious sculpture. Now, I bike around it every summer. The original totem pole was purchased by James Kraft in the 1920s. I don't know how long they last in the Pacific Northwest, but Chicago pollution and graffiti took a toll on our wooden thunderbird, and he had to be replaced in 1986.

Detail of bottom totem.

People now leave pennies in offering to Kwa-Ma-Rolas and mostly give him respect as a guardian of this part of the bike trail. 

Kwa-Ma-Rolas  watches over the city

Which brings me to the end of today's adventure. Don't forget to leave a penny, next time you are near Addison and Lake Shore Drive...

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