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The Beardless Lincoln and why he was moved

by Mona B

Almost everyone knows the giant statue of Abraham Lincoln greeting us every morning at the intersection of Western and Lawrence in Lincoln Square. You may not know why this particular statue of him is so special.  Continue reading this article to find out the answer.

When free lance artist Lloyd Ostendorf submitted his sketch to the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Commission in 1860, he didn’t think much when drawing Lincoln without the beard. (Statues that have been created always include his beard.)  The 9 foot “Chicago Lincoln” was completed at a total cost of $35,000 by the Utah sculptor Avard Fairbanks, a protégé of the artist who had created Mt. Rushmore.

“The Chicago Lincoln” in 1957

Why “The Chicago Lincoln” is special

The statue depicts the assassinated president as he appeared beardless in Chicago on scores of visits from the 1847 Rivers and Harbors Convention to the November day in 1860 when he met in Lake View Township with Vice President-elect Hannibal Hamlin to decide upon appointments to his cabinet. The statue on Lawrence and Western, therefore, is the only sculpture of Abraham Lincoln that shows him without his famous beard.

What he is suppose to remind us about

The “Chicago Lincoln” was created to give people hope and to remind them of their freedom. And whenever a Chicagoan was concerned about Human Rights, he or she should be able to look upon the statue and remind themselves about what Abraham Lincoln stood for.

What you didn’t know

Some of us might only know the Chicago Lincoln as he stands today, however, originally created, the Lincoln Statue stood in the middle of a traffic triangle at the intersection of Lincoln, Lawrence and Western so that all cars had to go around him at all times. However, as we all know by now, the Lincoln Statue was moved in front of Walgreens so that cars would not have to maneuver around him anymore.

Why the statue was moved

Chicago has 32,000 intersections, each its own special problem in traffic engineering. In 1975, the triangle intersection at Western, Lawrence and Lincoln was among the three most dangerous intersections of the city. It’s classic three-street intersection had enough troubles with Lincoln Ave. running diagonal, and the Chicago Lincoln added to the headache . The three streets crossed an intersection with a small island at the center – the Chicago Lincoln – which gives it its name “Lincoln Square”.

We had three very busy streets with a lot of foot traffic, numerous little shops and parking in every possible spot. What made it the most difficult: Cars turning onto Lawrence so they could go toward Lake Shore Drive. They turned constantly from Lincoln and Western, both very busy streets, and when they turned left they kept getting stranded by the Lincoln Statue. From all these problems derived the city’s second largest accident total in 1975, a very close second at that. A total of 109 accidents occurred at the intersection, with an average daily traffic count of 54,250 in 1975.

Facing the problems stated above, the City of Chicago moved the Chicago Lincoln and introduced more visible signal lights to make the intersection safer!

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This entry was posted on August 1, 2012 by in Fun Facts.

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