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The Maryland Curiosity Bureau

What’s With That Random Simon Bolivar Statue?

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A bronze bust of Simon Bolivar sits atop a pedestal in Bedford Square Park. But why? (photo credit: Aaron Henkin / WYPR)

There’s a tiny park in Baltimore’s Guilford neighborhood that’s home to an improbable monument. It’s a bronze bust of Simon Bolivar, who liberated Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia from Spanish colonial rule. Questions abound: Who made this thing? Was it a gift? Who was it from? How and why is it here? And what message should we take from it? Get ready for a trip down a historical rabbit hole that spans centuries, from the Colonial Era to the Cold War.

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The front and back of the pedestal offer few clues. (Photo credit Aaron Henkin / WYPR)

In this episode, we hear from:

Public historian Aimee Pohl, who's written an article about the statue and produced a video feature on the subject for Baltimore Heritage.

Christy Thornton, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Latin American Studies at Johns Hopkins University

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Aimee Pohl has diligently plumbed the mystery of the statue. She's become fond of Bolivar's visage. (photo credit: Aaron Henkin / WYPR)

Aaron creates and produces original radio programs and podcasts for WYPR. His current project is The Maryland Curiosity Bureau. Aaron's neighborhood documentary series, Out of the Blocks, earned the 2018 national Edward R Murrow Award. His past work includes the long-running weekly cultural program, The Signal, and the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings series, Tapestry of the Times. Aaron's stories have aired nationally on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered.