Fighting ignorance since 1973 Its taking longer than we thought
On a recent trek from the Loop to McCormick Place, we encountered for the
first the Balbo Monument near Northerly Island. What's the story behind the
Fascist gift to our city? What's the "flight across the ocean in the
eleventh year of the Fascist era" mentioned in the inscription? And why does
it appear as if words different from those more easily readable lie behind
the English text?
demonstrating early their affection for air and water thrill shows, later
renamed Seventh Street for the dauntless aviator
thus the present-day Balbo Drive
and proudly accepted a gift from Mussolini to commemorate the occasion, an
18-foot column of exceedingly rare and valuable marble that now stands just
north of McCormick Place. As we are informed by the inscribed pedestal on
which the column rests, it is about "twenty centuries old"; it once stood on
the shore of the Mediterranean, at the Roman port city of Ostia, "to watch
over the fortunes and victories of the Roman triremes." The inscription does
not inform us that Il Duce's ancestors apparently pilfered the thing from
the Greeks, but I suppose there wasn't enough room to go into all the
Periodically someone suggests that we really ought to do something about Chicago's tributes to Fascism (both the monument and the street), but so far nothing has come of such efforts see these stories in the Tribune, the Reader, and Chicago magazine for more. The column, misspellings and all, stands to this day, ensuring that Chicagoans will be ever mindful of Balbo's historic flight, the painful lessons of Fascism, the subtle machinations of ethnic ward politics, and the embarrassing inefficacy of the Chicago patronage system.
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