City removes last remaining statue of Christopher Columbus

The city’s last remaining statue of Christopher Columbus, which stood in a Far South Side intersection, has been removed.

For several days, the statue had avoided the fate of two others — one in Little Italy, the other in Grant Park — that were removed in the overnight hours of July 24 after protests.

But the mayor’s office Friday morning confirmed the removal of the Far South Side statue, although it was not immediately clear when it had been removed.

The bronze figure — one arm akimbo — stood on a small, triangular concrete pedestrian island that’s surrounded by South Chicago Avenue, Exchange Avenue and 92nd Street in the South Chicago neighborhood.

Unlike the two statues that were removed a week ago, it hadn’t drawn the attention of protesters, but a statement from the office of Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she was concerned protesters, who planned to demonstrate at the statue, could have tried to topple it and injure themselves in the process.

“Following public safety concerns over planned demonstrations similar to the one in Grant Park two weeks ago, the City has temporarily relocated the Christopher Columbus statue at Drake Fountain in the South Chicago neighborhood until further notice. This temporary relocation is part of an effort to prevent individuals from pulling down statues in an extremely dangerous manner, which has created unsafe situations for protestors and police, as well as residents of the surrounding community.”

Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th) told the Sun-Times Monday she wanted the statue replaced with a statue of a different Italian person who’s contributed to society.

According to the city’s website, the statue was originally part of a public drinking fountain that was a gift from Chicago hotelier John B. Drake. Dedicated in 1892, it’s believed to be Chicago’s first statue commemorating Columbus. It was originally located on Washington Street near what was then City Hall but was moved to its present location in 1909.

Earlier this week, Lightfoot said she ordered the first two statues “temporarily” removed after receiving “intelligence that gave us great concern” that something bad was about to happen. She didn’t elaborate, but the statue in Grant Park was the scene of a huge clash between police and protesters earlier this month that resulted in dozens of officers and demonstrators being injured.

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