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Celebrate President's Day with Chicago's most presidential statues

Written by
Clayton Guse

In case you weren't aware, today is President's Day—a celebration of the birthdays of two of America's most influential presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The holiday always lands on the third Monday in February, meaning that it doesn't actually take place on the birthday of either Lincoln (February 12) or Washington (February 22). But if you're in Chicago and would like to commemorate the lives of 'ol George and Abe, there are a trio of statues around town that are perfect for just that.

Heald Square Monument

Photograph: Creative Commons/Flickr/Ray Dumas

The face of the father of our country is cast in bronze on Wacker Drive and Wabash Avenue, just beneath the shadow of Trump Tower. The sculpture, named after Fort Dearborn commander Captain Nathan Heald, shows Washington flanked by Robert Morris and Haym Salomon, who were two of the most important benefactors of the American revolution. Chicago wasn't even a blip on the radar when these three men were in their prime, but without them the city may have never come into being.

Abraham Lincoln: The Man

Photograph: Wikimedia Commons/AndrewHome

It's well-known that Illinois is the "Land of Lincoln," as the 16th president began his career in the state, elevating himself from a lowly lawyer to a congressman to the White House. In Chicago, Lincoln has a park (and neighborhood) named after him. At the southern end of Lincoln Park, you can see one of the most fitting homages to the president in the entire state. "Abraham Lincoln: The Man," sits at the southern edge of Lincoln Park, and shows the president in deep thought as he clutches his jacket. The statue was completed in 1887 by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, 22 years after Lincoln was assassinated.

Abraham Lincoln: The Head of State

Photograph: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Chicagoans were so enthralled by Saint-Gaudens' first sculpture of Lincoln in the city that they commissioned another one 20 years later. This one sits in Grant Park and shows the president sitting with an angry and concerned look on his face. It was completed in 1908, a year after Saint-Gaudens passed away. Lincoln's disgruntled look may be due to the fact that the city's front lawn was named after his right hand man during the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant, who went on to be a less than mediocre president.

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