A number of images of women popped up on my commute to the Newberry Library this summer. There wasn’t a coherent theme, in fact they comprised a variety of women (though I did not include advertisements). On the platform at Rockwell, there was this mural. It was hard to get a short of it, because it wasn’t directly across from the platform and the train’s speed was too fast to snap it from the window. Moreover, as you can see, it is impossible to get to from the street. I did my best…
The theme seems to be women in their many, many guises. It portrays women of all races and even mythical women. They are active and busy; there are commuters, mothers, musicians, goddesses, artisans, construction workers, swimmers, women who run with the wolves, women with quilts, women who are friends or sisters, a woman who looks a lot like Frieda Kalo,
It was a lovely mural that inspired me each morning.
A much smaller image at the next stop also made me smile. It was so small that I had trouble finding it again after seeing it the first time. You had to be looking out the window at just the right moment:
This is looks a lot like graffiti and is probably illegal, but it is Mary Poppins, really who could be mad? (Though I suppose we could throw copyright infringement in there, too).
They hit a couple of garages…
After a transfer to the Red Line, I came out of the station near the Episcopal Church of the Ascension, named in honor of Mary’s ascension into heaven. Not surprisingly, a statue of Mary graces their garden, a lovely space with a fountain, open to the public for mediation and rest.
St. Anne’s Convent is right next door. I am going to be honest, I didn’t know there were Anglican nuns, but turns out, there are. The church website notes: “The Chicago Convent of the Order of St. Anne is an autonomous convent of the Anglican Order of St. Anne. It was established at the Anglo-Catholic Church of the Ascension in 1921 in response to a call from the rector and vestry for sisters to do missionary work in the parish. The Sisters work at the Church of the Ascension as teachers and counselors.” The name is significant as St. Anne was the mother of Mary. Symmetry.
On the way home, I retrace my steps, but often skipped the bus to walk the final few blocks. You often see much more on foot with a slower pace, I know I did.
First up was the beautiful Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center (formerly Senior High School as you see reflected on the building). The school name honors the Revolutionary War hero, Frederich Von Steuben, who is credited with teaching the Continental Army military tactics and discipline. He was not a woman. But, the reliefs on the building include a number of images of women.
Construction began in 1929 and the reliefs reflect the era’s romantic love affair with chivalry. (For more on that, I suggest Jackson Lear’s book, No Place of Grace).
Very close to the High School is North Park University. If one were to take a detour down meandering path along the North Branch of the Chicago River, it runs into the heart of campus. There the Divinity School has a memorial to Lina Sandell, who is a woman, but one who never lived in the US. The plaque reads: “Karolina Wilhelmina Sandell-Berg was forn in Fröe34ye, Wmäland in 1832. She endured many hardships in her early years including illness, witnessing the drowning of her father, and the death of her infant son. [The past kind of sucked]. Yet she maintained a deep piety and strong commitment to missions. She began writing poens and hymns at a very young age, writing more than 650 hymns and poems throughout her lifetime. Her best known hymn, ‘Children of the Heavenly Father’ has appeared in several American hymnals. Lina Sandell died in 1903 and her songs and hymns continue to be the most sung and loved in Sweden, as well as for many American Lutherans and Covenanters.” It isn’t surprising to find ethnic and religious pride in Chicago, though the Swedish might not be the first that come to mind when thinking about the city (unless you’ve eaten at Ann Sather’s). But according to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, over a million Swedes immigrated to the US between 1845-1930. While many of them moved into Midwestern agricultural communities, by 1880 Chicago’s Swedish population exploded and until 1960s they were the city’s fifth largest foreign-born group.
Caroline Hall sits directly east of the statue, likely named after Lina Sandell
Speaking of women and religion…continuing toward home small images of Mary suggest that there are Hispanic or perhaps Italian families in the neighborhood. Indeed, many of the shops and restaurants definitely indicate large immigrant presence, from Latin America as well as Asia and the Middle East (the food choices were great!).
And did you know that Chicago has almost 800 honorary ways? There is at least one in 43 of the city’s 44 wards! This one that I crossed each day honors Elaine Leibman, though it is unclear who she was or why she was honored. A quick google search didn’t turn up much…I’ll have to get back to you on this one!