Nicolaus Copernicus Monument, 1830 (installed 1973)
Solidarity Drive in front of Adler Planetarium
In Warsaw, Poland, one of the most notable landmarks is the Nicolaus Copernicus Monument that stands in front of Staszic Palace, the seat of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The monument was designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen in 1822 and completed in 1830. The original piece was later damaged during World War II, but was reproduced from the artist’s model under the supervision of Polish sculptor Bronislaw Koniuszy. In 1971, to mark the 500th anniversary of the birth of Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543), Chicago’s Copernicus Foundation of Chicago raised $150,000 to produce a replica of the statue. Koniuszy made a recasting of original monument and shipped the bronze statue to the United States. It was dedicated during a ceremony on October 14, 1973. Mayor Richard J. Daley credited the monument with symbolically linking Chicago and Poland. This statue of the father of modern astronomy sits in front of the Adler Planetarium on Solidarity Drive, renamed by Mayor Jane Byrne at the request of the Polish community in honor of Lech Walesa and the Polish labor union. Fellow countryman Thaddeus Kosciuzsko is honored with a monument just to the west of Copernicus. In 1977, with the remaining funds from the monument campaign, a search began for a permanent site for the Polish Cultural Center. Named the Copernicus Center, it is located at Milwaukee and Lawrence avenues.