Chicago Parks currently have 2% representation of statues of historical women! The 48 statues of men include William Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln and Christopher Columbus. The Chicago Parks feature representations of female figures, including nymphs, mermaids and Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.

In 2018 the only sculpture of a woman in the 570 Chicago Parks was unveiled. The statue depicts Gwendolyn Brooks, the first African-American to win Pulitzer Prize. Also present is a memorial to Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams, but this is There are also a handful of statues of women outside the parks in Chicago, including Georgiana Rose Simpson, the first black woman to finish a doctorate from University of Chicago.

Current Statues of Women in Chicago

Jane Addams

The Jane Addams memorial sculpture was Chicago’s first major artwork to honour an important woman. Helping Hands commemorates Nobel Peace Prize winner and social reformer Jane Addams (1860 – 1935). Jane Addams established Hull House, the nation’s first settlement house in Chicago’s poor immigrant neighbourhood on the Near West Side. The sculpture by Louise Bourgeois can be found in Chicago Women’s Park.

Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) was an American poet, author, and teacher. Her work often dealt with the personal celebrations and struggles of ordinary people in her community. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry on May 1, 1950, for ‘Annie Allen’, making her the first African American to receive the Pulitzer. She later became the first black woman to be the poet laureate of Illinois as well as the first to serve as a poetry consultant to the Library of Congress. Her statue, by Margot McMahon was unveiled at Brooks Park on June 7 2018. The installation is designed to “both educate and invite public interaction” with Brooks’ life and work – both of which have been under appreciated by the wider public, McMahon said.

Georgiana Rose Simpson

Georgiana Rose Simpson (1865-1944) received her PHD in June 1921 and was the first African American woman to earn a doctorate in the United States. During her time at the University of Chicago, she faced significant incidents of racism and attempts to force her out of the women’s dormitory at the campus which led to protests. Following her studies, Simpson taught at Dunbar High School before becoming a professor at Howard University. Teaching in Washington allowed her to reinvest in the strong Black communities that had contributed to her own success.