The World's Wackiest Monuments, Chosen By You

When we asked you last week to send us the weirdest monuments in your neighborhood, you not only delivered, you quite frankly freaked us out. How do you people sleep at night knowing that a giant turtle-humping statue is just down the street?

Thanks to your hard work, here are just a few of the more unique monuments we discovered—and what we think they might be memorializing. You know, it's not always easy to tell.

Fallen corn

This Field of Giant Corn Ears is located in Dublin, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. It's not a memorial to all the corn Ohio has eaten, rather, it's honoring Sam Frantz, an inventor of a corn hybrid that helped grow a hardier, tastier corn. The 109 cobs of concrete are tall and imposing. "It's hard to tell from the street view, but they're about 6 or 7 feet tall," says sschwing.

Eating babies

"Well, concerning weird there is the 'children eater fountain,' in Bern, Switzerland," says netris. Just weird? The Kindlifresser fountain was built in 1546 and no one really seems to know why this dude is chowing down on a bunch of babies in the middle of a square. Although it's probably a helpful tool for parents who want to get their kids to behave.

The fact that a statue of Lenin is no longer a statue of Lenin

All these statues have been found outside the House of the Free Press (Casa Presei Libere) in Bucharest, Romania, says Panaitescu Alexandru. In 1960 a sculpture of Lenin made by Romanian sculptor Boris Caragea was placed in front of the building. The statue was pulled down in 1990 after the Romanian Revolution, but the pedestal itself becomes a stage for all sorts of commentary on freedom of speech.

Public urination

"Welcome to Brussels, where a pissing boy (Manneken Pis) is our most visited monument," says HarryMosher. "Less people know that there is actually its female equivalent (Janneke Pis)." Yay equal rights? Perhaps because they feel bad for the little naked kid with his wee-wee hanging out, the city now dresses him up with different outfits, including a Santa suit and a traditional Chinese costume from the city of Haining, China.

Getting high on ether

According to Homerjay, in Boston there is a statue that celebrates the use of ether as anesthesia. In 1846 ether was used for the first time at Massachusetts General Hospital to remove a tumor from an unconscious patient, according to Public Art Boston. "Ether had enormous benefits, allowing doctors to work more closely and carefully, and giving patients a respite not only from pain, but also from the anxiety associated with surgery." This is not a historical rendering of the original dentist and patient—instead, sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward decided to re-enact the biblical story of the Good Samaritan.

The devil

"Madrid, Spain, has one of the very few monuments to Lucifer in the world," says OgilvyTheAstronomer. El Angel Caido or the Fallen Angel, by Ricardo Bellver, sits innocently in a park and has committed no known evil (YET), although there was a movement to add a statue of the virgin nearby to balance things out. There was a battle in 1998 when the Prado museum claimed ownership of the Devil, only to have the city argue that the Devil, in fact, belonged to them. Oh yeah, it also supposedly sits exactly 666 meters above sea level.

A hole on a freeway ramp

Braddock's Rock in Washington DC might look like a well, but it's so much more, says mwhite66: "A General Braddock sailed up the river and landed his troops on the rock on his way to the French and Indian wars in 1755. The rock was to be deeply buried by the eastern approach ramp to the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge over the Potomac, but history buffs arranged for a shaft to the surface so it would remain visible. It's said that you can see the rock at the bottom of the well, but there's no place to stop or park; you just see the well as you drive by." More at Allen Browne's site, which also provided the top photo.

Steaming piles of poo

"Chicago wins this one easy," says Bwleon7 (and mjbraun also posted this one). Shit Fountain, is first of all, a real thing. Chicago artist Jerzy S. Kenar created the work outside his studio and gallery to honor the dogs in the neighborhood, although it looks like he might be trying to send a particular message to their owners. Photo by Rachelle Bowden.

Henry Winkler's acting career

In Milwaukee, there is a statue of Henry Winkler as the Fonz (Happy Days was set in the city). Sculptor Gerald Sawyer wanted to leave the sculpture all natural bronze (get it, the Bronze Fonz) but at the last minute the committee said they wanted a black leather jacket, white shirt and jeans. According to an article about the statue's fifth anniversary, Sawyer might want to come back for a touch up: "It looks like he's been keyed a few times, and his groin area shows signs of wear that suggest indignities you don't even want to contemplate." Thanks to kramnos1.

The possibility of a hollow earth

The Earth is hollow, didn't you know—and if you don't believe us, go visit the Hollow Earth Monument in Hamilton, Ohio. Not sure why we are erecting monuments to ideas which we always pretty much knew were not true, but that's Ohio for you (did you notice that there are a lot of things from Ohio on this list?) "That's right, a monument dedicated John Cleaves Symmes (who's apparently buried there) and his belief in a hollow earth. I don't know of much crazier or less known hometown monuments than this," says Jester6642.

The climbability of Albert Einstein

AnxiousLogic is a contrarian. and mwhite66 both sent us this Albert Einstein memorial by Robert Berks at the National Academy of Sciences in DC. Instead of a stodgy statue like so many other famous figures, I kinda like the fact that you can cuddle up on Einstein's lap and have him read from one of the papers in his hand on the photoelectric effect, the theory of general relativity, and the equivalence of energy and matter.

Coffins under the runway

"I feel like there's a trove of weird stuff here in Savannah, Georgia, but the king might have to be the graves embedded in the runway at the airport." Um, probably right, NugShow. Richard and Catherine Dotson were born in 1797, got married, and moved to Savannah. Catherine died in 1877, and Richard in 1884. Buried on their family farm. 60 years later, the city wants to build an airport there and moves all the family graves besides Richard and Catherine Dotson, who apparently wanted to stay put. Don't worry—since they're kind of off to the side, planes don't roll over them all day.

Turtle love

By far the most mentioned monument is this statue by Charles Y. Harvey in Worcester, Massachusetts, which has become far more famous than its original intention, to honor a prominent lawyer. "This is known as 'turtle boy' in my town of Worcester," says Heeroyuyzero. "Also known as the Burnside fountain. It's supposed to be a boy riding a sea turtle but how the hell this was never seen as anything other then a boy getting down and dirty with a turtle blows my mind." Thanks for similar sentiments from ernesto3030 and Zack Danger and Ben Hebert and Wavy_Gravy, all of you, sickos.

The world's first nuclear reaction

"One of the most overlooked monuments in the Chicago area are Site A and Plot M in the Palos Forest Preserve, Palos Park, IL," says Bikebot6000. "Site A is where the first nuclear reactor CP-1 was rebuilt as CP-2. Another reactor, CP-3 was built next to it and is the first heavy water modulated reactor—the earliest version of todays modern nuclear reactors. Plot M is in the same area and was used for burning low level radioactive waste—probably stuff like test animal remains and protective bunny suits. I'd been living in the south suburbs for 15 years now and only until a few years ago did I find out about the significant nuclear research I had been mountain biking over." Bonus: Head into Chicago to get the rest of the story, says Michael Walsh: "If you visit the University of Chicago you will see a somewhat skull shaped monument to the first self-sustaining nuclear reaction, achieved by Enrico Fermi in the university's squash court as part of the Manhattan Project."

Dudes taking baths

"This right here. It just oozes weird. It's a block and a half from my apartment," says BoxFullofSharpObjects. This sculpture depicts screenwriter and author Dalton Trumbo, who wrote Spartacus and Roman Holiday and hailed from Grand Junction, Colorado, where you can find this bathing man today. Trumbo was one of the Hollywood Ten, accused of Communist activity. And he apparently liked to work in the tub.

A forgotten bridge disaster

What's the worst train disaster you might not have heard of? The Ashtabula River Railroad Disaster, says beefStu. "The event occurred on December 29, 1876 when a Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway Train, the Pacific Express, plunged into the the Ashtabula River, about 100 yards from the railroad station at Ashtabula, Ohio. More than 90 of its 159 passengers and crew were killed when the bridge collapsed and the train fell some 70 feet into the river below before igniting into a roiling ball of fire. When the railcars came to rest after the plummet they were engulfed in flames from oil lamps onboard. Those that escaped and were assisting others from the wreckage drowned as the ice melted from the fire and weight of the wreckage." There's even an audio feature where you can hear what this all might sound like.

A railroad boondoggle

"Weirdest for me has to be the Ames Brothers monument outside of Laramie, Wyoming," says JFParnell. "It is truly out in the middle of nowhere." According to Roadside America, the pyramid was a type of redemption for a pair of brothers who manipulated construction costs for a railroad to cheat people out of $50 million. "The pyramid was the Union Pacific's way to polish the tarnished reputations of its ex-officials. Built in the early 1880s—after the scandal had subsided—it stood near a remote railroad town where passengers were encouraged to get off (and look at the pyramid) while the engines were changed." When the rail route changed, the pyramid was no longer in a high-traffic area, and most people don't even know about it now. A fitting ending to the tale.


What's the Coolest, Weirdest or Most Overlooked Monument in Your City?

Last week, the New York Times produced a beautiful feature that serves as a monument to monuments, of sorts, highlighting the often-forgotten statues, plaques, pillars and benches that mark Important Sports and Important People across New York City.

The story plucks 10 lesser-known monuments for recognition, like the Lithuanian Flyers Memorial in, yes, Lithuanian Square, Brooklyn. After Charles Lindbergh's famous trans-Atlantic flight in 1927, other pilots caught "Atlantic fever," including Steponas Darius and Stasys Girenas who attempted to fly from Brooklyn to Lithuania but crashed over Germany. In their home country, the men are celebrated as heroes, their images plastered across stamps and currency; their names etched upon bridges, streets and schools. Here, they're remembered with a small aluminum plaque a few blocks from the BQE.

Lithuanian Square, a tiny park in Brooklyn, celebrates two men who are "bigger than George Washington" in their home country, via NYC Parks


With over 800 such monuments in New York City, some public spaces are becoming too crowded with granite-chisled memories; Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmstead apparently warned planners of this back in the 1870s. A few parks even have moratoriums on new monuments, and it turns out it's not as easy to get a marker for history as it used to be: Over the last 20 years, fewer than 60 new memorials have been approved by the city. Some folks who made the cut include Harriet Tubman and Eleanor Roosevelt, who help to balance out a list which is almost exclusively men.

Perhaps there will come a time when we won't need physical reminders of history. Using geolocation on our phones, we can already discover plenty about what happened there before. Instead of gazing at a giant marble head, we can read a story or watch a video, look at old photos and follow a map. Maybe someday there will be memorials for memorials.

Do monuments still matter? In case some of our most interesting city markers might be fleeting, perhaps we should highlight some of our favorites. What's the strangest, coolest, or most bizarre monument in your city? Maybe it's tucked away beneath a freeway overpass or down an overgrown alley, easily ignored, or so obvious and out-in-the-open we're oblivious to it. What's a memorial that no one remembers, but shouldn't be forgotten? [New York Times]

Gizmodo's Landmark Status examines the strange and surprising structures that our cities have chosen to protect. Discover something interesting that's been landmarked near you? Drop us a tip in the comments.