Top 5 Most Interesting Local Statues


1. The Triceracopter, Langsam Library
Smack in the middle of the first floor of UC’s Langsam Library stands an odd and imposing sight: the Triceracopter. The enormous sculpture of a triceratops-helicopter is actually titled Triceracopter: Hope for the Obsolescence of War, and was made by late local artist Patricia A. Renick. The statue is meant to be jarring. Made from an Arm OH6A Cayuse combat helicopter flown during the Vietnam War, it symbolizes the horrors that come from warfare technology. It was meant to stand as a cautionary tale, and as a call for peace.

2. Capitoline Wolf (Cincinnati Edition), Eden Park
This statue in Eden Park featuring two children suckling from a wolf (who seems about as surprised by the whole situation as an unsuspecting viewer might be) has a long history. The statue itself is an exact replica of the original Capitoline Wolf, which lives in the Musei Capitolini. It represents Rome’s foundation myth: According to the story, rightful heirs Romulus and Remus (the aforementioned children) were cast down a river as infants by their usurping uncle. The wolf in question suckled them, until they grew strong enough to take back their rightful place as leaders. The replica was sent to Cincinnati by the Italian government through the local chapter of the Order of the Sons of Italy in 1931. It is meant to be in honor of Cincinnatus, our city’s namesake.

3. Barnard’s Abraham Lincoln, Lytle Park
In 1917, George Grey Barnard’s Lincoln statue was revealed in Lytle Park in Downtown, and everyone hated it. Well, strictly speaking, that isn’t true: the statue received its fair share of praise. But it definitely had some haters. When Barnard was commissioned to create the statue, he had a clear vision. His Lincoln statue would not be the image of a perfect, proud hero. Bernard declared that he would bring people the real Lincoln. But the statue was too real for some people. Robert Todd Lincoln, one of Lincoln’s surviving sons, described it as “grotesque as a likeness of President Lincoln, and defamatory as an image.” Another critic, contemporary sculptor Fredrick Ruckstull, said the statue was a “mistake in bronze,” and made the late president look like a “slouch” and a “hobo.” However, it did have its fans. Many people felt that it shared a different truth about the president than other statues told. President Taft, upon seeing it, declared that it was as close an experience to meeting the president face-to-face that he ever expected to have.

4. James Bradley, Riverside Drive, Covington, Kentucky
There are a number of interesting things about our statue of James Bradley. It shows Bradley sitting on a bench reading a book (an appropriate pose, as Bradley was the first African American man to attend the Lane Seminary in Walnut Hills). Bradley was a former slave who bought his own freedom. He came to Cincinnati and asked to join the Lane Seminary. He was accepted, and his passion for learning led to his participation in a debate at which he convinced many of the students to be abolitionists. Technically speaking, the statue doesn’t actually depict James Bradley; it only represents him. When sculptor George Danhires set about creating it, he could find no images of James Bradley for reference. So his statue is of a handsome man who stood in as a model.

5. The Tyler Davidson Fountain, Fountain Square
This is the statue in Cincinnati; it’s the site that puts the “Fountain” in “Fountain Square.” The statue, which was built as part of an effort to replicate the grand statues of Europe, symbolizes the blessings of water. It makes sense: the lady atop the fountain (or, to call her by her proper name, “The Genius of Water”) sends water flowing down her hands towards the figures below her. There are more layers to the symbolism: the four adult figures on the middle of the statue represent the different uses of water, and the children playing at the bottom show the joys water brings. However, the fountain has a technical use which may surprise you: The smaller fountains around the edges, which propel water away from the fountain itself, are actually drinking fountains. While the rest of the fountain is chlorinated, these smaller fountains produce fresh drinking water.

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