A Million Times – The Freedom Wall

February 3, 2010 6 Comments »

A Million Times doesn’t necessarily have to focus on the egg and dart, piloti or joists. Sometimes we walk (or ride) by all kinds of things A Million Times and never really take a closer look.

freedom wall

So today’s A Million Times is that crazy wall with all the names on it in River North. You know this wall, you’ve seen it on the brownline between the Chicago stop and the Merchandise Mart. It’s the big wall of names, seemingly unrelated. Once you take a closer look (like when the train is stuck for fifteen minutes even though you’re already fifteen minutes late for work) I think the meaning of the work starts to pop out.

The Freedom Wall – it’s official name -  was designed by artist Adam Brooks. Brooks often uses words in his art and during the 1992 Presidential Campaign he began to wonder about the word “freedom.” He sent out 600 emails and messages to people asking which person best represents freedom. The most popular answer was Martin Luther King so King jumps to the top of the list. The other names are in order by their vote tally.

There are some weird ones on there, like Rush Limbaugh (I’m sure he must represent freedom to someone…) and Dr. Kevorkian. If you look at it closely you’ll notice there is a blank spot, that’s for the people who answered that no one person could embody freedom.

Chicagoist did a podcast with Adam Brooks and asked him all kinds of cool things about the wall, you can find that here.


  1. Jack February 3, 2010 at 1:22 pm -

    I have ALWAYS wondered about the blank spot. WHO could have had their name taken off I always wondered????


  2. admin February 4, 2010 at 3:59 pm -

    Well thank YOU Jack!

  3. Joe Avella March 1, 2010 at 9:40 pm -

    I’ve always wondered about this piece too! I figured the black spot was a disgraced celeb like OJ or R Kelly they had to take off.

    Speaking of art off the brown line, what’s up with the other piece further south of 2 people hanging on rope on the side of a building? Always wondered about that one.

  4. Steve Koo March 27, 2012 at 9:10 am -

    I just googled this while my train was sitting for 10 minutes right in front of it. Thanks Margaret!

  5. admin March 31, 2012 at 11:06 am -

    Nice! Thanks Steve! That’s so fun.

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