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Secrets of Chicago's Bronze Cow

Discover two landmarks etched into a bronze cow outside the Chicago Cultural Center

cow statue

In front of Chicago’s Cultural Center sits a 2,500-pound bronze cow. It’s there to commemorate a public art project called Chicago Cows on Parade.

In 1999, 320 fiberglass cows were placed around Chicago. In the video below, you can see a few of these statues:

In the fall of 1999, 100 of these cows were auctioned off for charity. Talk show host and actress Oprah Winfrey bought 3 of them.

Chicago Cows on Parade was so popular that a bronze replica was placed in front of Chicago's Cultural Center in 2001 to remind Chicagoans of the event.

Look Into My Eyes

If you look closer at the cow — and into its eyes — you will see two other nods to Chicago’s history with architecture and art.

Etched into one eye is a rendering of Chicago’s Picasso statue, which has appeared in movies like The Fugitive, The Lake House, and The Blues Brothers.

Etched into the cow’s other eye is a depiction of Chicago's 150-year-old Water Tower, one of the few iconic structures left standing after the Great Chicago Fire.

Keep your eyes open when you are taking a Chicago walking tour (or a virtual tour!). You might be surprised what’s hiding in plain sight!


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