More Unexpected Lincoln: Illinois and D.C.

By Edward Epstein

Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021


As this blog noted back in August in "Unexpected Lincoln: New York City," images of Abraham Lincoln pop up all across America, often in seemingly random ways and sometimes in places designed to honor the 16h president.


For instance, on a recent visit to Illinois, I had a leisurely brunch with friends at the Country Kitchen, a folksy diner open for breakfast and lunch in downtown Highland Park, a suburb on Chicago's North Shore. As you can see, a certain someone stands guard over the cashier. Of course, Illinois calls itself "The Land of Lincoln," but it is still striking that a small business would honor him in such a way.


About three and a half hours south, the University of Illinois not long ago restored and remodeled Lincoln Hall, a big classroom and lecture hall building along the main quad of the Urbana-Champaign campus that I visited during a reunion on campus. The building, first opened in 1911, is full of tributes to Lincoln.



The most popular one is a bronze bust of Lincoln made by Hermon Atkins MacNeil situated in the lobby. Lincoln's nose is shinier than the rest of the work because over many decades thousands of University of Illinois students have rubbed that spot for good luck before taking exams in the building. I hope it worked.


The exterior of the building features 10 panels done by sculptor Kristian Schneider depicting key events in Lincoln's life. The north and south sides of the four-story building feature quotes from Lincoln's letters and speeches. It's all well worth a visit by Lincoln fans and is just about two miles from the Champaign County Courthouse in downtown Urbana, on the site where Lincoln worked as a circuit-riding lawyer. The county maintains an interactive exhibit about Lincoln in the courthouse, it says.


Lincoln's image for generations has been used in advertising to represent a square deal, fairness, the best. This shows up in a current ad campaign visible to multitudes of residents of the Washington, D.C. area every day.


WTOP radio, the capital city's popular all-news station, "with traffic and weather on the 8s," is advertising on the backs of Metro buses. And look whose image they have chosen to get listeners to tune in to the station that generally ranks No. 1 in listenership in the big Washington market.


If you comes across any unexpected images of Lincoln, let us know and we might use them in future blog posts. All it takes is a little looking because he is ubiquitous.