The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Your sightseeing guide to the oddities of Chicago

Mara Logan

It is no secret that Chicago has something for everyone — whether you enjoy a beach day at the lakefront, skyscrapers as far as the eye can see or restaurants that cater to every type of palate. However, wanderers will also find a collection of oddities sprinkled throughout this city that’s full of ideas, history and creative people. 

This is a short list of some of the options. Stay weird, Chicago! 

Shit Fountain – 1001 N. Wolcott Ave.

Situated near the Ukrainian Village neighborhood, Shit Fountain pays homage to the natural cycle of life and the duty of animal owners to pick up after their pets. Chicago artist Jerzy S. Kenar, who placed the poop statue on his private property, stated that he was tired of furry pals stomping all over the flowers and taking dumps in front of his gallery. Kenar is better known for wooden sculptures throughout O’Hare Airport or his Black History Month granite fountain in Renaissance Park on the South Side. The bronze crap sits upon a sandstone Dorian-style column. From the fountain, water slowly trickles into a shallow basin.

James Pratt, a junior at Columbia College, was surprised to find the fountain in such a quiet part of the city.

“At the same time, (the location) felt right for such a beautiful sight,” Pratt said. “Even though the water wasn’t working, I marveled at the monument of doo-doo in front of me.”

International Museum of Surgical Sciences – 1524 N. Lake Shore Dr.

Across from the International College of Surgeons stands a historic lakefront mansion. Within this mansion resides the International Museum of Surgical Sciences. Modeled after the chateaus of Versailles, the mansion houses artifacts and exhibits from prehistoric to modern surgical medicine. Take a peek inside if you want to see amputation saws from the 1500s, cases of trephined skulls from Peru that have surgical holes in them, and paintings depicting surgical procedures throughout history. The museum features early dental health, the history of gynecology and an entire library of rare books and manuscripts. You may find yourself cringing at old surgical techniques and praising the marvels of modern medicine. Before you leave, check out the gift shop, where you can purchase your very own IUD pin or anatomical pancreas necklace.

Clown Graveyard – 7750 Cermak Rd., Forest Park, Illinois

This site is a bit farther from the city in the near west suburbs. If you find yourself wandering the Woodlawn Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois, you’ll come across giant stone elephant statues engraved with the words “Showmen’s League of America.” Beneath these elephants lies a mass grave of clowns, strongmen, trapeze artists and other circus folk. Otherwise known as Showman’s Rest, this is the location of the victims of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus Train Disaster. In 1918, an engineer with 16 years of experience fell asleep at the wheel of a 16-cart train, bypassing warnings of a stalled train in front of him. The train collided with the circus train, and sleeping members of the rear carts either died upon impact or in the ensuing kerosene fire. With a death toll of 86 people, many bodies could not be identified. Some gravestones are marked with the performer’s show names, such as “Baldy” and “Smiley.”

Medieval Torture Museum – 177 N. State St.

Situated in the heart of downtown Chicago’s theater district, the Medieval Torture Museum is not for the faint of heart. This museum provides patrons with a direct encounter with the horrors of human history, offering exhibits that allow interaction with historical methods of interrogation, torture and execution. Realistic human dolls portray gruesome torture and execution methods throughout various historical periods.

“The Medieval Torture Museum is a creative interactive museum where visitors can come face to face with the executioners and their victims,” stated The museum’s Director, Paula Malone. 

“The primary mission of the museum is to use historical evidence to make a commentary against human cruelty. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.”

Admission tickets are $29.99, and the museum recommends the exhibit for those 18 and older, or for minors accompanied by an adult.

BATSU! Chicago Comedy Club – 7752 N. Wells St.

Originally hailing from Japan, the game played at this club features comedians competing against each other in a series of improv and comedy  challenges. The loser faces humiliating punishments, including being shot with a paintball gun, electric shocks or a man in a chicken suit throwing eggs at the defeated contestant. Hosted at Kamehachi, a historic sushi bar, patrons can indulge in sushi and sake and, for the daring, participate in the game. The organizers recommend arriving hungry and ready to laugh. Ticket prices range from $40 to $70.

Monadnock Building – 53 W. Jackson Blvd.

The Monadnock Building in the South Loop’s Printer’s Row section stands as a shining example of history preserved. This modern marvel held the distinction of being the largest office building at the time of its creation.The current owners, who acquired the building in 1979, reconstructed it to its original vintage design, maintaining a commitment to preserving its historical essence. Businesses on the first floor have also been preserved in a vintage style, featuring an old-style barber shop, a vintage flower shop, a shoe cleaning and restoration business, and other businesses with a vintage aesthetic.

Among the occupants, Optimo, Chicago’s premier hat creators, have been selling their hand-crafted hats in the building for the past decade. Owner and hatmaker Graham Thompson finds the building’s vintage ambiance ideal for his passion for quality vintage-style hat making.

“I always encourage clients who don’t know about the building to just walk down the hallway and absorb the history and the feel of it,” Thompson said.

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