Thursday, September 26, 2019

The sad demise of a 20-foot tall bronze statue of Christopher Columbus after Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.

This $50,000 ($1,330,000 today) monument to Christopher Columbus was made for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition by sculptor Howard Kretschmar of Chicago. It was originally placed in Lake Front Park (today's Grant Park) at the "Gateway to the Exposition," which was at Michigan Avenue and Congress Street

The statue, in bronze, was twenty feet high, surmounting a granite pedestal thirty feet high. Columbus' left hand held to the chest, right hand extended at his side and legs astride. The monument forms the design for souvenirs of the Exposition which the profits of sales were to be used to pay back the $50,000 they borrowed.
This 1902 photo shows the Christopher Columbus statue laying on the ground waiting to be melted and reused.
Immediately, the reaction of the public was negative. There are numerous articles in the Chicago Tribune newspaper archives panning the statue. The concession never happened and no money was ever paid back.

The statue was removed and placed in storage in June of 1897. In September of 1902, it was proposed to recycle the statue and use the metal for a pending statue to honor President McKinley, who was assassinated in 1901. That, in fact, was done!

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

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