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Is Chicago Falling Behind in the Green Graves Race?

By JoshMogerman in Miscellaneous on Oct 10, 2010 7:00PM

Stephen A. Douglas monument and tomb [reallyboring}
What do cemeteries and monuments tell us about the city they are in? Blair Kamin blogged about the overhaul of Abraham Lincoln’s tomb in downstate Springfield’s Oak Ridge cemetery---noting that the geothermal heating and cooling system being installed will be the first of its kind at a state historic site and was part of a broader green effort.

With Halloween looming and discussions of discussions of Mayor Daley's environmental legacy in the background, Kamen's post got us to thinking... If Chicago is indeed one of the greenest cities in the nation, shouldn't we start looking at our own cemeteries and historic markers? It seems like there are plenty of opportunities to make a statement, starting with Lincoln’s famous foil and debate partner Stephen A. Douglas. Douglas’s tomb at 800 E. 35th Street features a 46 foot tall marble column topped with a ten foot statue of “the Little Giant.” Why not add a wind turbine on the top to catch the Lake Michigan breeze and power the Bronzeville historic site? There are plenty of other significant columns offering the same opportunity: famed architect Dankmar Adler’s grave is marked with a column from his demolished opera house and railcar magnate George Pullman’s crypt is topped with a tall column just begging for a turbine (though, since neither has much in the way of indoor space there’s not much need for electricity).

And why stop with wind? The Couch tomb in Lincoln Park seems a good spot for a solar panel or two on the roof to power the lights trained on it at night... Or, a green roof like the one on City Hall, would help it blend into the park...

Not that we are serious about this whole thing (though green funerary stuff is coming into vogue), but how would you green the city’s historic tombs?