The American Writers Museum celebrates American writers through innovative, state-of-the-art exhibitions and compelling programming.
Unknown to even most locals, this fountain in the Wicker Park neighborhood, honors the Chicago author who stated, “No writer ever gave more to a city and got back less.” Nelson Algren was best known for his novel “The Man with the Golden Arm,” which won the first National Book Award in 1950. Algren, who lived a majority of his life in Chicago, was considered one of the major writers of his generation. His books spoke about failures and life in Chicago. A quote from Algren’s “Chicago: City on the Make,” which Algren dedicated to Carl Sandburg, is inscribed on the fountain “For the masses who do the city’s labor also keep the city’s heart.”
In “Chicago, City on the Make,” Algren summarizes Chicago’s history as a mass of hustlers, gangsters, and corrupt politicians. Yet, with these famous lines, he ultimately declares his love for the city: "Once you've become a part of this particular patch, you'll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies, but never a lovely so real."
Algren’s second novel, “Never Come Morning,” about a thuggish young Polish boxer, infuriated Chicago’s Polish community, who protested the memorial. Today the fountain is centered in the burgeoning and vibrant hipster neighborhood of Wicker Park which is home to several of the cities best used bookstores including Myopic Books (1564 N Milwaukee Ave) and Quimby’s Bookstore (1858 North Ave).