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On the site of an ancient sand dune, Frederick Law Olmstead, architect of New York’s Central Park, carved out an island, known as Wooded Island, in the 500-acre site of Jackson Park, part of the grounds for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Today restored, the island added the Japanese Garden in 1935, seen on a fine spring day in 2010.

Yesterday was the 150th birthday of Chicago sculptor Lorado Taft, the city’s most famous. On the occasion, Vicki and I visited his monumental work, The Fountain of Time, on the west end of Hyde Park’s Midway Plaisance. We were on a full day’s tour, called The Devil in the White City tour, led by historian Barbara Geiger. My I-Phone pic of the sculpture is attached.

We enjoyed the story of Taft’s employment of a number of young women sculptors to help get some work done for the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. It was highly unusual for women to do such work then. Fair organizer Daniel Burnham, hearing of Taft’s plan, was reported to have said, “I don’t care if he employs white rabbits, as long as he gets the work done.” The talented ladies were henceforth known as the “white rabbits.”

After more than a dozen years of work Taft’s Fountain of Time was unveiled in 1922. Based on poet Austin Dobson’s lines: “Time goes, you say? Ah no, Alas, time stays, we go.” the fountain shows a cloaked figure of time observing the stream of humanity flowing past.

October 2019
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