Chicago Remains to Be Seen

The Face of Death

Graceland Cemetery is the oldest and perhaps the most famous cemetery in Chicago. Established in 1860, Graceland is the final resting place for a who's who of Chicago history, including John Peter Altgeld, Philip Armour, Daniel Burnham, Marshall Field (I through IV), Cyrus McCormick, Joseph Medill, Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe, Potter Palmer, Allan Pinkerton, George Pullman and Charles Wacker.

And where else can you look Death in the face?

Chicago's original City Cemetery was on the lake front, but soon was considered a health hazard due to overcrowding and water-borne diseases. The bodies were moved to nearby Graceland, which was then located in the town of Lake View. The original City Cemetery property became known as Lincoln Park.

One of the most unique and memorable statues at Graceland is officially known as "Eternal Silence," but is popularly called the "Statue of Death."

The statue, created by sculptor Lorado Taft, adorns the final resting place of the appropriately named hotel owner and businessman Dexter Graves, a member of one of Chicago's first families.

The brooding and menacing figure was once all black in color. Over the years, the black has mostly worn away, exposing the green, weathered metal beneath. Only one portion of it remains darkened -- the face, which is hidden in the deepest folds of the figure’s robe.

The legend associated with the statue states that anyone who looks directly into the face of the statue will see the image of their own death. (It has also been said that the statue is impossible to photograph, and any camera pointed at will cease to operate. Obviously, that's not true, as the statue is one of the most-photographed monuments at Graceland.)

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