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Chicago’s forgotten WWII submarines honored in riverwalk memorial

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The crowd-funded project highlights the 28 submarines which traveled down the river during the conflict

Jay Koziarz

This spring, the eastern end of the Chicago Riverwalk will welcome a new monument dedicated to the memory of World War II submariners. While most people probably associate Chicago and submarines with the Museum of Science and Industry’s captured German U-boat, the city’s river was actually used during the war to transport 28 submarines built in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and ultimately the Pacific Ocean.

For the group of Navy veterans that raised the money to finance the memorial, the project has been more than four years in the making. “This has taken us a while towards completing our mission, but we are happy to finally see our challenge coming to an end,” project manager Frank Voznak, Jr. recently told Loop North News.

Slated for a waterfront site in front of Vista Tower, the steel monument is designed to resemble an interior bulkhead of a World War II submarine, complete with a pass-through hatch. The installation will be engraved with an image of one of the submarines passing beneath the raised Lake Shore Drive Bridge, a map of the route traveled, and the names of the 28 Wisconsin-produced vessels—four of which were lost in combat with all hands.

The addition coincides with a larger $10 million revamp of the Chicago Riverwalk between State Street and Lake Shore Drive, opening May 13. A dedication ceremony for the submariners memorial will be announced at a later date, according to the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

Update: The new memorial will be dedicated on Saturday, May 18, according to city officials.

The memorial (center) can be seen in this rendering of the improvements headed to the eastern end of the Chicago Riverwalk later this month.
City of Chicago