Best Statue - 2008
Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Memorial
Should you happen to stumble upon this formidable monument from the rear — and stumbling upon it is practically the only way to find it — you might think that the long-bearded fellow in the center is Shakespeare. And indeed, the monument dominates a sloping hill just to the north of the site of the annual Shakespeare Festival. But think again. This colossal bust is of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn. And if you can identify the father of systematic physical culture, you should be auditioning for Jeopardy! Jahn (1778-1852) was wild about exercise. He organized gymnastic societies (known as the Turnverein) in his native Germany. As emigrating Germans settled in St. Louis, they brought Jahn's ideas with them. This imposing monument was dedicated by his disciples in 1913. Those were the days when people really knew how to build monuments. Located on the site of the German Pavilion during the 1904 World's Fair, it features a shot putter, a gymnast and six owls. There's a stone base and three granite steps. Your best view is from a paddleboat or canoe on the canal that links Post-Dispatch Lake with the Great Basin below Art Hill. Which is to say that you have to work up a sweat to see this thing. Surely Jahn would approve.