Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Another Little Italy landmark...

...is this statue of Columbus at the entrance to Arrigo Park at the corner of Polk and Loomis.

Originally known as Vernon Park, "the greenspace was officially renamed Arrigo Park in honor of Victor Arrigo (1908-1973). A vocal advocate for the Italian-American community, Arrigo served as Illinois State Representative for Chicago's near southwest side from 1966 to 1973. Arrigo was instrumental in bringing sculptor Moses Ezekiel's statue of Christopher Columbus to the park in 1966. First exhibited in the Italian pavilion at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, the bronze figure later graced a second-story alcove on State Street's Columbus Memorial Building. After the building came down in 1959, the statue went into storage. Arrigo argued that Columbus should find a new home in the city's oldest continuously Italian-American neighborhood, which was then experiencing wrenching transformation due to the construction of the University of Illinois' Circle Campus."

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