The Chicago Lincoln Statue

N Western Ave & W Lawrence Ave Chicago

Western Brown Line/The Chicago Lincoln Statue
Chicago Scene
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There are over 200 statues of Abraham Lincoln in the United States to commemorate the 16th president. Chicago honors the Civil War leader with six statues, which makes sense since Illinois is Lincoln's home state. While there are many statues of the former president, only once is known for causing traffic accidents!

In 1936, Lincoln Square was dedicated to Abraham Lincoln and 20 years later, a statue was added to the neighborhood to further honor him. The bronze statue features a young, beardless Lincoln with his signature stovepipe hat in hand, standing at a podium, similar to how he appeared at the Chicago River and Harbor Convention of 1847. In 1951, local alderman John Hoellen proposed to build the statue. With the State’s permission, a nationwide contest was held, where people from around the country submitted designs and ideas. Lloyd Ostendorf's sketch, an artist and Lincoln historian, was chosen. Since it was a contest, Ostendorf was given a prize of $500 and sculptor Avard Fairbanks brought his design to life.

Once completed in 1956, the statue was placed in a triangular traffic island in the center of the intersections of Lincoln, Lawrence, and Western Avenues, which is the center of the Lincoln Square neighborhood. While it is a great location for a statue, it eventually proved to be problematic. The seven-and-a-half foot tall statue was difficult to see around and, combined with the three-street intersection’s heavy traffic, it made it among Chicago’s top three most dangerous intersections. In fact, 109 car accidents occurred there just in 1975. By early 1979, the statue was moved 50 ft to its current location, safely on the sidewalk on the corner of Lawrence and Western in front of Walgreens.

Lincoln sits on a pedestal and on one of its sides, it reads "FREE SOCIETY IS NOT, AND SHALL NOT BE A FAILURE. Abraham Lincoln, Chicago Dec. 10, 1856." Since the statue is supposed to symbolize liberty, this was an appropriate quote by the leader who abolished slavery.

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The Chicago Lincoln Statue

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