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Just in time to honor one of our country’s first and most honorable veterans on Veterans Day, the City of Chicago announces the completion of the restoration of the 112-year-old George Washington Monument at Martin Luther King Drive and 51st Street. The bronze sculpture of Washington, astride a horse with his sword pointed skyward, serves as a gateway to Washington Park.
Earlier this year, the sculpture was removed from its pedestal to be cleaned, examined for corrosion and fully restored. It was then placed on a reconstructed pedestal and relocated 25 feet south in the grassy median along King Drive near the northwest corner of Washington Park.
The project was undertaken by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) in collaboration with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), and in cooperation with 3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell.
“The City of Chicago has declared 2017 the ‘Year of Public Art.’ While we look forward to creating new public artworks across the city, we will also cherish the artistic legacy left to us by the visionary cultural leaders who shaped Chicago in the 19th and early 20th Centuries,” said DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly.
“CDOT is pleased to have partnered with DCASE on this important public art restoration project,” CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said. “This restoration ensures this historic statue of George Washington is something the neighborhood can be proud of for generations to come.”
The statue depicts George Washington during the Revolutionary War period when he served as General and Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. It was originally commissioned by the Daughters of the American Revolution as a gift to France and unveiled at the Place d’Iéna in Paris on July 3, 1900. Two years later, a committee of Chicagoans asked for permission to install a replica in Washington Park. The Chicago replica was installed in 1904 at the entrance of Washington Park at what was then called Grand Boulevard and is now known as Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
The historic monument was created by two renowned American sculptors: Daniel Chester French, known for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington and the Statue of the Republic, also known as the Golden Lady of Jackson Park, which was a centerpiece of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition; and Edward Clark Potter, designer of the famed lions outside the New York Public Library.
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