Community goes to bat for Balbo monument

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Preservationist Michael Fus


One of the highlights of the Chicago’s World Fair in 1933 unfolded when Italian aviator Italo Balbo led a historic transatlantic flight from Rome to Chicago, landing on the shores of Lake Michigan near Grant Park.

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 from the Century of Progress and is one of the oldest sculptures in the United States. It remains standing near Soldier Field and is in need of professional conservation and increased protection.

The Balbo Monument Restoration Project was recently launched to preserve this precious piece of American and Italian history. The project includes refurbishing the monument, building a structure around it to protect it from the elements, and creating a donor wall.

The Chicago Parks Foundation, Chicago Park District and members of the Italian-American community have formed a committee to raise the estimated $400,000 required to complete the project.

A reception was held at Monastero’s on Nov. 10 to kick off the fundraising drive. Among the speakers were community activist Frank DiPiero and preservationist Michael Fus, who presented a model of the proposed restoration.

To become involved, contact Jennie Scheerer at


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Fra Noi produces a magazine and website that serve the Chicago-area Italian-American community. Our magazine offers our readers a monthly feast of news and views, culture and entertainment that keeps our diverse and widely scattered readers in touch with each other and their heritage. Our website offers a dizzying array of information drawn from every corner of the local community.

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