1895 (installed 1896, relocated from site near zoo in 1966)
Richard Henry Park (1832-1902)
Of those who were part of the country’s founding, Benjamin Franklin is one of the most complex: a public figure who has generated an almost folkloric identity. A true multi-disciplinary polymath, his interests led him to activities that included journalism, science, the establishment of public libraries, and achievements in many other disciplines. It was his role in early United States journalism and publishing that led Chicago Tribune publisher Joseph Medill and the Old Time Printers Association to erect a bronze sculpture in his honor, placed in Lincoln Park. The sculptor was Richard Henry Park, a native of New York, who had studied and maintained a studio in Florence, Italy before relocating to Chicago in anticipation of sculptural work needed for the 1893 world’s fair. Franklin’s achievements in helping shape United States democracy as well as his role in other disciplines are well-documented historical facts. Historical archives reflect some negative personal views on people and groups not unusual for the time, but historians have noted that he was open-minded and would often shift in his positions. Franklin owned two slaves who served in household responsibilities, but he later freed both and became an outspoken abolitionist.