'Ten Thousand Ripples' – Chicago, Illinois - Atlas Obscura
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Chicago, Illinois

'Ten Thousand Ripples'

Partially submerged Buddha heads freckle Chicago’s neighborhoods. 

If you find yourself taking a stroll through one of Chicago’s many diverse neighborhoods, don’t forget to look down. You might just stumble upon the semi-submerged head of a man named Siddhartha Gautama, better known as the Buddha.

The 300-pound sculptures, made of fiberglass and resin and filled with sand, are part of a Chicago art project called Ten Thousand Ripples. Constructed by local artist and peace activist Indira F. Johnson and planted throughout the city in two phases in 2013, they were installed in 10 of the city’s most densely populated and violence-prone communities: North Lawndale, South Chicago, Pilsen, Auburn Gresham, Back of the Yards, Evanston, Rogers Park, Uptown, Albany Park and Little Village. Each neighborhood received 10 sculptures—symbols of peace, understanding, and tolerance—five of which were allowed to remain after the conclusion of the project in November 2013.

Since 2013, a number of statues have fallen prey to acts of theft and vandalism, though intrepid explorers can still find them in Uptown, Rogers Park, and other neighborhoods, as well as in a ring of stone faces staring pensively inward along the shore of Lake Michigan.

Know Before You Go

To get here, take the Red, Brown, or Purple Line train to Fullerton Station, then follow Fullerton Avenue east until it crosses Lake Shore Drive and ends at the shore of Lake Michigan. Follow the bike path north past the Theater on the Lake event center, and you'll walk right past a dozen stone faces, all arranged in an inward-gazing circle.

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