HAYMARKET MEMORIAL STATUE
A historical summary of the commemorative Haymarket memorial statue unveiled on May 30, 1889 and erected in honor of the tragic events of May 4, 1886.
THE BIRTH OF A MONUMENT
LOCATION 1: HAYMARKET SQUARE (May 30, 1889 thru July, 1900)
LOCATION 2: RANDOLPH STREET AND OGDEN AVENUE (July, 1900 thru 1928)
In 1903, the State of Illinois and City of Chicago Seals located on the reverse of the statue’s pedestal were also stolen. The city sent a letter to sculptor Johannes Gelert, requesting the use of the original plaster casts to replace the seals.
On May 4, 1927, the 41st anniversary of the Haymarket affair, a Chicago Surface Lines streetcar jumped its tracks and crashed into the statue’s pedestal. The force of the crash dislodged the statue from the pedestal and the statue fell over falling off the base. The motorman of the streetcar, William Schultz of 2250 West 21st Street, stated that the brakes failed as he was rounding the corner. He was reportedly later heard saying that he “was sick of seeing that policeman with his arm raised.” The city restored the statue in 1928 and moved the pedestal and statue into nearby Union Park.
LOCATION 3: UNION PARK (1928 thru June 2, 1957)
LOCATION 4: RANDOLPH STREET AND THE KENNEDY EXPRESSWAY (June 2, 1957 thru February 5, 1972)
On May 4, 1968, The Haymarket statue was vandalized with black paint, the 82nd anniversary of the Haymarket affair, following a confrontation between police and demonstrators at a protest against the Vietnam War. The city named the monument a historic landmark in the mid-1960s, but this did not prevent further vandalism, presumably in protest against police brutality in the context of opposition to the Vietnam War and social inequality in the United States. On October 6, 1969, in what was almost certainly a deliberate symbolic reenactment of the original Haymarket meeting, someone placed a powerful explosive between the legs of the statue, blowing out about a hundred windows nearby and sending chunks of the statue’s legs onto the expressway below. Weather Underground members, known as Weatherman, took credit for the blast and battled police elsewhere in the streets of Chicago over several days. The statue was rebuilt and unveiled on May 4, 1970.
The statue was repaired, but early on the morning of October 5, 1970, it was blown up again. The body of the statue badly bent a nearby railing as it fell before settling on the expressway embankment, and one of the legs landed two hundred feet away. Immediately after the blast, a person or persons called various news outlets to declare that the bombing was the work of the Weathermen. According to one newspaper, the caller said, “We just blew up Haymarket Square Statue for the second year in a row to show our allegiance to our brothers in the New York prisons and our black brothers everywhere. This is another phase of our revolution to overthrow our racist and fascist society. Power to the People.” The two attacks on the police statue were among several politically-motivated bombings throughout the country at the time.
An angry and determined Mayor Richard J. Daley had the statue repaired again and put under 24 police protection. On February 5, 1972, the statue was moved to the State Street Chicago Police Headquarters Building. The pedestal remained at this location for 24 more years and was finally removed in 1996. It is unknown whether the pedestal was scrapped or placed into storage by the city.
LOCATION 5: STATE STREET CHICAGO POLICE HEADQUARTERS (February 5, 1972 thru October 5, 1976)
LOCATION 6: CHICAGO POLICE TRAINING ACADEMY (October 5, 1976 thru June 1, 2007)
LOCATION 7: MICHIGAN AVENUE CHICAGO POLICE HEADQUARTERS (June 1, 2007 thru Present)
- Center for History. “Chicago’s Worst Tragedy Occurred in the Chicago River.” Retrieved from Wheaton.lib.il.us. Accessed 31 January 2014.
- Chicago Police Star Magazine – March, 1972. “Haymarket Statue Moved.” Retrieved from ChicagoCop.com. Accessed 10 July 2014.
- Chicago History Museum. “Monument On the Move.” Retrieved from ChicagoHistory.org. Accessed 10 July 2014.