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Chicago, Illinois

Ulysses S. Grant Boulder

A strange rock in Chicago marks the spot where a tree once stood in honor of the 18th President. 

Sitting in Chicago’s Washington Park is an odd little boulder with the inscription, “Tree planted by Ulysses S. Grant, December 6th, 1879.” Of course there is no tree.

Grant was fresh off of his second term in office and quite the celebrity (often controversially so) when he visited Chicago’s South Park (now Washington Park). He came to the city to plant an oak tree that would stand for growth and prosperity of the Chicago. The ceremonial planting was attended by over a hundred people who arrived to watch as the former President and Civil War hero plopped some seeds in the ground and covered them with dirt like a common farmer.

During the planting Grant said that he hoped to see the tree grow tall and prosper, and whether or not he could see it, his wish came true. The Grant’s tree grew large and healthy until the 1930s when it was cut down. However, while the tree may be a thing of the past, the boulder that was laid at its roots remains to this day, forever etched with a commemoration of a tree that no longer exists.

Know Before You Go

Located just south of 51st St. on Cottage Grove. Follow Payne Drive west. When you reach the armory turn right and follow a curving driveway into a parking lot. The boulder is north and slightly east of the parking lot.41.8010-87.6086