The Balbo Monument consists of an ancient Roman breccia column on top of a plinth. It commemorates a difficult transatlantic seaplane crossing by the Italian aviator Italo Balbo. The column dates to the period of Julius Caesar, and comes from the ancient port city of Ostia. It was a gift to Chicago from Benito Mussolini.
I’ve always been fascinated by ancient Rome, so I thought I’d best go see it while I could, before it is cancelled out of existence (it has already been removed from Google Maps). I rode a Divvy bike downtown to seek it out.
It’s not too hard to find if you’re looking for it, but it doesn’t stand out anymore. The pine trees in the photo above have grown all around it to hide it from view, and it’s surrounded by a ten foot chain link fence. Still, it’s fascinating to see something that stood in the city when and where Cleopatra’s ships unloaded their grain to make Roman bread. As long as you don’t focus on who gave it to us.