Alexander von Humboldt, 1892
East of North Humboldt Drive near Boat House
This monument in the park and on the street that also bear his name, honors Alexander Von Humboldt (1769–1859), a German naturalist and explorer. Created by German sculptor Felix Gorling (1860-1932), the piece was donated to the city by German immigrant and Chicago brewer Francis J. Dewes (1845–1922). During the dedication ceremony, with an estimated crowd of 20,000 people, one speaker declared: "A monument of this kind is not only an honor for the city, but it stimulates meditation and is thought provoking. In this sense it is a gift of great importance, for which F. J. Dewes deserves full credit."
The ten-foot high statue shows Humboldt with a book in his left hand and twig in the right, a lizard atop a manuscript, a globe nearby and plants at his feet. These symbolize his many travels in Europe, Russia and Latin America, as well as his role in establishing geophysics and physical geography sciences. The park, developed by William Le Baron Jenney in the 1870s, transformed the space from a swampy area in a flat prairie into a public park with horse trails and lagoons. In the early 1900s, landscape architects, such as Jens Jensen, made significant improvements by connecting the two lagoons with a river and adding a rose garden, field house, boathouse and music pavilion.