Chicago’s Lakefront Art

“Chicago is home to what might be the greatest collection of outdoor stone carving in urban America. Few know it exists. And now the government is wiping much of it out…


The carvings, cut into giant limestone blocks that line the city’s lakefront, span decades, styles and themes. Some amount to traditional graffiti initials or lover’s hearts, though occasionally on the complex side. Early initials can serve as points of attraction for later memorialists, with dozens of letters and names sometimes accumulating on a single stone.


Carvings have accumulated along the lake for much of the last century; undisturbed their natural life span is many decades. Drawings and paintings, on the other hand, weather away in a matter of years. The fact that so many can still be found demonstrates that the lakefront remains a magnet for anonymous expression. All the pictures on this page will disappear prematurely, however, since they are in the path of the government’s anti-erosion project.”

The Lakefront Anonymous Art Gallery
@ Interesting Ideas
Copyright William Swislow 2002

One thought on “Chicago’s Lakefront Art

  1. My Husband and I carved our names in the rocks on Foster Beach on our Wedding Day in 1991. We carved it right next to one of those stone chairs built into the rocks. We sit there whenever something good or bad happens. Many arguements have ended there.

    Our kids go there if they want to meet us at the lake, and we go there alone to just think.

    What an awful loss this is to our city, our fellow uptowners, and our family. I am so sad to see the rocks go.

    Last week my Husband and I walked up to the Point and saw how cold and sterile it looks now. No longer a place from our youth… I will be so sorry to see that happen to Foster Beach. As it has been my beach all 40 years of my life. My kids grew there too. Now as I am expecting my first Grandchild I had hoped to carve his o her name there too. Now it’s pointless. So sad.

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