Certificate of Excellence
a virtual bike-ride sculpture-tour
Written and Hosted by Krista August
Video Designed and Produced by Kristin Noelle Smith
Published December 2014
Chicago Writers Association
Book of the Year
“Giants in the Park” is a history guide for the monuments in Lincoln Park, Chicago’s largest and, historically, most important park. Giants encountered with this walking tour guidebook include Lincoln, LaSalle, Grant, Sheridan, Schiller, Goethe, Altgeld … seventeen portrait statues in all. Missing monuments and salient park history are documented as well.
Lincoln the Man is the most important statue on the tour and is a masterpiece of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the ranking American sculptor of his era. Saint-Gaudens’ Lincoln was groundbreaking when unveiled in 1887. With the inclusion of the classical chair behind the standing Lincoln and with its elaborate base designed by architect Stanford White, it is much more than the typical portrait statue.
Of all the park’s monuments, our LaSalle bronze is the most significant to Chicago’s history. At it’s unveiling in 1889, LaSalle was celebrated as the man “to whose geographical discoveries American civilization owes a heavy debt.” After being the first white-man to travel the full-length of the Mississippi River in 1682, LaSalle returned to the Chicago portage the following winter, where in his journal, he predicted the rise of a great city.
The history behind each and every monument is unique and exciting. Throughout the book, interesting connections exist, to a wide variety of topics and early Chicago personalities: the Columbian Exposition of 1893, the Haymarket affair, the Great Chicago Fire, the Civil War, early Chicago ethnic groups, the park’s cemetery years, Charles Yerkes, Frances Willard, Mayor Carter Harrison and much more.
Lincoln Park’s monumental art invites us to explore the old: to study the heroes of our Chicago forefathers; and through examining the realization of their likenesses, to glimpse moments and ideals from our great city’s youth.