DISCLAIMER: This week’s blog post doesn’t necessarily have a Wiccan spin to it, but I was inspired because of my Wiccan faith. I hope you enjoy!
Recently I spent a 4-day weekend in Chicago with the Roomie and another friend to celebrate our birthdays. Neither of these ladies are Wiccan, but they are always supportive of me and my path, so I never feel like I’m burdening or boring them with my faith. We had a really great time and from day one I found myself spotting these incredibly fascinating Greeco-Roman-esque statues around the city. I made sure to take pictures of them and after returning home I started to research who they were because, of course, my mind immediately went into ‘which deity are you’ mode.
My first sighting was on the way from the train station to our hotel. It was a less than 20-minute walk, so we decided to go ahead a hoof it, which is how I noticed the first two statues outside the Chicago Board of Trade building.
My first thought was that Agriculture was Demeter with the grain and cornucopia, but after learning about how stone sisters were outside the CBOT building I was able to better understand the significance of their names and how they connected to the organization.
The pair of five-ton statues have a bit of mystery surrounding them. The CBOT has been housed in numerous locations in Chicago since it was established in 1848, but the statues were first introduced to Chicago when the CBOT moved to LeSalle Street in 1882. In the 1930s the original building was demolished in order to build the beautiful Art Deco inspired skyscraper that currently stands at the address. The mystery is that the statues were thought to have been destroyed with the building until they were discovered on the grounds of a Danada Forest Preserve District, nearly 50 years later. Nothing is known about the origins of the statues or how they came to be at the preserve, but were returned to the CBOT in the early 2000s.
My second sighting was while we were visiting The Field Museum. As soon as we entered the main hall where you find Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the pair of elephants, I noticed four statues high above the ground level in each corner. I had no guesses as to any goddess they could have been modeled after, but while in the gift shop I spotted a print that call them The Muses. They were designed by Henry Hering, a popular New York sculptor of the time, who is also responsible for eight caryatids, four low-relief panels and the famous lion statues that also live at the museum. The Muses depict the four purposes that the museum was founded on.
Dessemation of Knowledge
The four statues depict the four foundations that the Field Museum was founded on. I don’t have a great deal of experience in being in large cities like Chicago so I don’t know if it’s common place for statuary to depict ideas like this, but I really love it! I feel like there are layers of stories at places like the Field Museum and the CBOT that enrich the overall experience of being there.
In the Great Hall at Union Station I found the last of the beautiful statues of my trip. If you’ve never been in Union Station the first thing you have to understand is that the Great Hall is huge. There’s this incredible skylight ceiling that, when I was doing research for this post, I learned was blackened out during World War II in hopes of keeping it from being a bombing target. There are giant columns at each end and these really solid wooden benches that are lined up where you can sit while you wait for your train. We got to the station pretty early so we had lots of opportunities for people watching! So cool!
There are two statues that look over the Great Hall that are more works by Henry Hering. One represents Day and holds a rooster, while the other represents Night and holds an owl, representing the twenty-four hour nature of passengers on the railroad.
I thought of Athena with her owl when I first saw the Night statue and for some reason I thought of Hera when I saw the Day statue, even thought I’m pretty sure rooster’s aren’t part of her associations.
I’m eager to go back to Chicago and see if there are any more of these goddess-style statues that I missed. I’m also interested in learning about whether or not there are statues like these in other cities so if you know of any please share! As a history buff I believe that the Greco-Roman period has influenced so much of our architecture and art throughout the years. It’s some of my favorite areas of study and I think that’s why these statues greeted me to easily.
Thanks for walking a little while with me. I hope you enjoyed this weeks post… see you next time!
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