For those of you visiting, those pillars on North Halsted have a lot of history to them! Read on, and educate yourself on a treasure in Chicago.
The Legacy Walk is a vibrant outdoor exhibit dedicated to LGBTQ history, located in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. The exhibit spans half a mile of the North Halsted Street Corridor between Belmont Avenue and Grace Street, and is defined by ten sets of 25-foot-tall Rainbow Pylons made of decorative steel. These pylons serve as a beacon for Chicago’s LGBTQ community, with each pair of pylons anchoring a section of the exhibit.
Bronze biographical markers are affixed to the Rainbow Pylons, commemorating the life and work of notable LGBTQ individuals whose contributions have helped shape the world. Unfortunately, their sexual orientation or gender identity has been overlooked, minimized, or redacted from most historic texts. Each marker measures 18 inches by 24 inches and is mounted below each bronze memorial marker. Each donor who made the marker possible is recognized on a 4-inch by 18-inch dedication plate. With forty biographical markers in total, the exhibit boasts the largest collection of detailed bronze biographical memorials in the world.
Every year, on National Coming-Out Day (October 11), new memorials are added to the exhibit. The maximum memorial capacity for the exhibit was reached with its Phase VII dedication in 2018. As a result, older plaques are gradually rotated off the exhibit to make room for new dedications. A Visitor Center is currently in development, with plans to house the “retired” memorials.
Since its inception, the Legacy Walk has become an internationally recognized beacon of pride and enlightenment for the 1.5 million visitors who come to North Halsted annually (estimated), whether for a casual stroll or to get a little crazy!
The installation is the only one of its kind in the world and was declared a Historic Landmark in 2019. So if you’re looking form something to experience before Pride In The Park, definitely check it out! For more information on the Legacy Walk, visit legacyprojectchicago.org.