South of Balbo St. (700S) and north of about were 11th St. would run if it extended across Michigan Ave. (1100E the park’s western boundary), and bounded on the east by the Metra track tunnel again is an expanse of park nicely manicured but completely lacking in anywhere to sit, except (sort of) for the steps leading up to this statue, which stands in the park at about 900S and about 125E. More on the statue in a minute.
Here’s the view from the statue to the north – on the left is the string of historic hotels that line Michigan Avenue:
and here is the view from there to the south:
Something I think a lot of people might not realize is that if you were standing at this same spot 20 years ago, none of the buildings would be there. They’re almost all brand new condo buildings for the new South Loop/Museum Campus neighborhood, clustering around Michigan and Roosevelt (the trees you see in the top center of this picture are at about 1100S), one block north of Roosevelt.
But the pressing question of the day – who’s the guy depicted in the statue? Before I walked up to see for myself, I heard one tourist erroneously tell another it was “Ulysses S. Grant.” That’s strange because it’s not. Here’s two closeups on the base:
“Erected by the State of Illinois in Honor of Major General John A Logan”
“Born in Illinois February 9, 1826 Died in Washington December 26 1886 while Senator of the United States from Illinois.”
That’s harder to read but if you zoom in you’ll see it reads:
“General John Alexander Logan 1826-1886/If other eyes grow dull, and other hands slack and other hearts grow/cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the/light and warmth of life remains./John Alexander Logan’s Pledge/The First Memorial Day, 1868/Reaffirmed and rededicated/Lawrence Pucci Wedgwood Society of Chicago/May 26, 1997.”
The every-trusty wikipedia confirms that Logan was indeed a Union general in the civil war (having fought in the Mexican-American war before then), and then a state senator, representative and later US senator from Illinois. He ran for Vice President (with James G. Blaine) but lost in 1884.
The plaque alludes to the fact that Logan was “regarded as the most important figure in the movement to recognize Memorial Day… as an official holiday.” He’s also mentioned by name in the Illinois State song (one of only 3 people who are – the other two being Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant).
Something else that jumps out – he actually resigned his House seat to serve in the army. I’m reminded of the part in Fahrenheit 9/11 when Michael Moore tries to get representatives to enlist 🙂
Before the Civil War, he was a Democrat, and afterwards, a Republican.
He is also the namesake of Chicago’s Logan Square, and hence of the surrounding neighborhood (I wonder how many of the hipsters walking by in such carefully considered vintage tees could tell you that).
The Lawrence Pucci Wedgwood Society of Chicago? It’s a nonprofit with a $13+ million endowment. A cursory internet search made it hard to figure out what its main goals or projects are – but here’s an article from the Chicago Tribune. Lawrence M. Pucci was an important fashion designer in Chicago, who passed away in 2009. Pucci’s studio was the first occupant at 333 N. Michigan Avenue building (here’s the obituary that ran in the Chicago Sun Times).
One more detail worth highlighting in this park: a fountain at 800S, midway between the Logan statue and Balbo Street (I walked around it and couldn’t find any sort of commemorating plaque):