Driving down Andrews St., I noticed a tiny park with a large bronze bust. I must have driven and walked that route a hundred times, but I never saw the statue until today.
The statue is of Freidrich von Schiller, a German poet and playwright who lived from 1759 to 1805. The bust was commissioned in the early 1900s by local German American societies. It was placed at what was then called Anderson Park at University Ave. and Main St.
The construction of the Inner Loop forced the destruction of Anderson Park. It also forced the destruction of what was then Franklin Square, a center of German life. The city moved the Schiller monument to its current location in the 1960s and called the little plot Schiller Park. It was all that was left of Franklin Square.
Just a few blocks away is St. Joseph’s Church, another forgotten park with German roots. St. Joe’s burned down in the 1970s.
The Schiller Park tale is a stunning example of the consequences of urban renewal and the construction of the highway through downtown. (A history blog has detailed the Schiller Park saga.) Now we want to turn back the clock and remove the Loop. It may be a start, but we’ll never repair the damage. Just ask Mr. Schiller, whose view has changed from vibrant neighborhoods to parking lots and highway over the last century.