Park Enhancement: The Balbo Monument Restoration

 

This week we sat down with Frank Di Piero to talk about the restoration of the Balbo Column, the Chicago Park District’s oldest monument.

About the Balbo Monument 

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Italo Balbo, a celebrated Italian aviator, led the first transatlantic flight from Rome to Chicago during the 1933 World’s Fair. The flight was spectacular, according to Frank, and consisted of 24 seaplanes that flew in formation across the ocean.

To commemorate the flight and honor Balbo, a 2,000 year old Roman column was sent from an ancient port city of Rome and installed at the fair’s Italian Pavilion in 1934.  The Balbo Monument is the only remaining structure in Chicago from the Century of Progress in situ and is one of the oldest sculptures in the United States.

The Restoration Project 

As an Italian American, Frank Di Piero grew up familiar with the Balbo Monument. According to Frank, it stood as a celebration of Italian culture. He describes the Balbo flight as the “proudest moment for Italians in America”. However, the monument is in need of serious attention, and Frank is mobilizing the Chicago community to take action.

 July 15, 2016 - Ralph Russo, Frank Di Piero, Carlo Vaniglia, Maria Antonietta Foti, Frank Foti, and Dina Vaniglia gather at the Balbo Monument for the anniversary of the flight

July 15, 2016 - Ralph Russo, Frank Di Piero, Carlo Vaniglia, Maria Antonietta Foti, Frank Foti, and Dina Vaniglia gather at the Balbo Monument for the anniversary of the flight

“We have a chance to be a small part of history” says Frank.  “The monument and achievement [of the Balbo Flight] are a major part of our history as Chicagoans, it’s the last structure surviving on the grounds of the World’s Fair. And then there’s the Italian connection—if you have any Italian blood in you…we have a duty to show that we’re here, and we’re vibrant.”

Frank, along with Tony Fornelli, Ralph Russo, Silva Russo, and Carlo Vaniglia, have initiated the movement to restore the monument, however the committee is in formation and the Chicago Parks Foundation is looking for individuals with a similar passion to join the campaign. The restoration will include building a structure around the monument to protect it from weather, a donor wall, and the story of the historic flight of Balbo and the Chicago World’s Fair.

 

Join the Chicago Parks Foundation, the Chicago Park District, and this passionate group of dedicated community members for a presentation about the historic Balbo Monument and to preserve Italian culture in Chicago. 

November 10th, 2016
5 pm to 7:30 pm
Monastero’s Ristorante

3935 West Devon Avenue
Chicago, IL

RSVP to Jennie Scheerer at jscheerer@chicagoparksfoundation.org