A new birth of interpretation

Yesterday we had a great event in Lockport, unveiling the new Lincoln Landing park and Abraham Lincoln sculpture. It should have had better publicity, for the sculpture was a good and bold attempt at portraying the multitudinous Lincoln in three intertwined figures, at once a return to the narrative in sculpture within a modern matrix of sensibilities; an organic cubism that presents different aspects together within a realist mode. Interesting stuff and largely successful, by young artist David Ostro. Doesn’t beat St. Gaudens in Lincoln Park, but it works. Lincoln as a legislator supported the construction of the I & M Canal among other internal improvements. (Hear that GOP? – it wasn’t even shovel ready – and that is in the day they actually used shovels…)
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The park itself is a huge step forward. They moved the “petting zoo” of historic buildings that had agglomerated there in the 1970s and 80s. Not only weren’t they original to the site, they blocked the view of the Gaylord Building, where I Chair the Site Council on behalf of the owner, the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Now the building has its original context of the canal and the public landing – now Lincoln Landing – and its role as a canal warehouse and grain concern during the 19th century is more visible in every way.
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The interpretation in the Lincoln Landing park also incorporates the standing Cor-Ten steel silhouette figures we launched a decade ago in the I & M Canal Corridor, as well as medallions commemorating various significant Lockport figures past and present. Not only does this include 1840s figures like canal engineer William Gooding but modern figures like Will County Historical Society docent Pat Darin, because history isn’t over yet.
medallionssWe are part of history, as Prof. Dennis Cremin noted in his dedication speech. This is a key element of historic site interpretation nowadays – letting people know they are part of history, too. They are actors and stewards and history is not a foreign country but the background to everything we experience and perceive. It is altogether fitting and proper that we do this.

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