Overlooked Plaques, Memorials, and Monuments

Sitting innocuously near the small village of Makanda, Illinois, there’s a squat stone marker that stands as the only memorial to Boomer, a simple dog with an amazing story. Boomer is said to have been able to outrun speeding trains, running afoul of the United States Postal Service for being so speedy, and supposedly he died trying to put out a fire with a bathroom break. Boomer’s odd little story is remembered almost exclusively by the little stone marker that bears his name, and that monument itself is mostly overlooked by most. Still, the monument stands, defiant in the face of many people’s disinterest.


(Image: Joe/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

All over the world, there are monuments and plaques which, just like Boomer’s, are themselves often overlooked. Now we want you to tell us about the obscure and surprising plaques, monuments, memorials, and landmarks that you think deserve a little more credit.

Tell us the story behind your favorite overlooked monument, and drop us a picture, and we might include your favorite landmark in an upcoming article on Atlas Obscura. Let’s build a monument to the monuments everyone overlooks.

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I’m a huge plaque reader. It annoys my wife sometimes. I have to stop and read everything. Here’s one that unsettled me.

A few years ago, my wife and I were visiting New Orleans. We wanted to get a bite to eat at Napoleon House, but it was too crowded. So we went across the street to the Original Pierre Maspero’s. As we were leaving, I noticed a plaque on the wall describing the place as the Original Pierre Maspero’s Slave Exchange. (!!!) Apparently, this place was once one of the central marketplaces for the sale and trade of human beings. I immediately felt gross for just having enjoyed a sandwich there. The exact wording is…

"Within this historic structures slaves were sold and Andrew Jackson met with the Lafitte Brothers and planned the defense for the historic and epic Battle of New Orleans. At this monumental battle the British surrendered to American troops commanded by General Jackson.

American independence was finalized and General Jackson went on to become the seventh President of the United States of America."

I couldn’t quite articulate why it had bothered me so until I visited Dachau a few years later and saw what it looks like when a nation REALLY comes to terms with its own worst deeds. America’s never really dealt with its legacy of slavery, in my opinion. We’re still happy to put a restaurant and a casual plaque somewhere where countless lives were destroyed.

https://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=51385

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I didn’t know whether to like this or leave it alone, since I liked the info but disliked the commemoration of the tragic history of the place. :exploding_head:

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On a lighter note, I added this to the Atlas a short while ago.

So back in the 80s, a plaque was placed at the location of Buster Keaton’s former studios in Hollywood. In perfect Keaton-esque fashion, they got the location wrong. It was actually on the other side of the street. So just a few months ago, a new set of plaques was added, correcting the older plaques (and also noting that Chaplin filmed some significant work there).

I have a great personal story about this location that illustrates why it’s so cool to live in LA sometimes. Across the street from this location is a theater company I’ve done a lot of work with. When we were at a former location, we did a show about Keaton called Stoneface. My job was to sit at a piano on the corner of the stage and score the play as if it were a silent movie.

The show got a lot of notice and one night Dick Van Dike (the community board censors won’t let me spell his name right!) showed up in our little 80 seat theater and enjoyed the hell out of it. A couple years later, we moved to the new location across from Buster’s old studio. Van Dike is now a fan of the company and will occasionally show up to other shows. So after one such show, one of our Stoneface cast members approaches him to tell him how much it meant to everyone that he showed up to see our play. He said that he was such a huge Buster Keaton fan that he had wouldn’t have missed it.

“Have you seen the plaque?” my friend says.
“What plaque?” says Van Dike.

My friend takes him around the corner and shows it to him. Van Dike had no idea about it and was a bit awestruck. So my friend had this marvelous little moment of standing in a quiet corner in Hollywood with one of his comedy heroes who himself was dumbfounded to be in the zone of his own comedy hero. How cool is that?

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Sir, your farm is in the wrong state.

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1780’s surveying technology had it’s limits when marking the long imaginary line separating Tennessee and Kentucky combine that with iron ore in the ground affecting compasses and bad weather and you get a problem that lasts most of the next century. The issue was destined to come to light as plots of land are surveyed and sold. Imagine finding out your 100 acre farm is not in the state you thought it was in and trying to resolve that with two different states.

Slightly ironic that a parcel which was technically supposed to be in Tennessee is now home to a horse racing facility with gambling that would be illegal there except for them letting it slide by in 1859.

https://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=83298

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tralfamadore, I don’t know if this will make you feel better or worse, but in Memphis, a city that is more than 60% black, there is a working project to set up memorial plaques where lynchings have occurred (see https://lynchingsitesmem.org/), and there’s a plaque off Auction St. (note the name) where the largest Memphis slave auction site once was. Particularly if you’re white (like me), the Civil Rights Museum here will bring you to tears. Against the state government’s thunder and bluster, Memphis removed the statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest (shudder) and Jefferson Davis that had been displayed prominently in its parks. We really are trying to deal with the legacy of slavery and continuing racism and bigotry.

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Maybe not terribly overlooked but you are probably only going here if on a tour, Buffalo Bill’s grave. It’s at a beautiful location, great view of all of Denver. Oh and the restaurant has amazing bison burgers.

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I’m perplexed by this “fountain of youth” plaque that I stumbled upon at The Bronx Zoo last summer and decided to look further into it based on this thread.
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From what I can tell from this garbled newspaper transcription, it was a failed scam by the pipe owner/monument maker to turn The Bronx into a pilgrimage site.

In fact, it’s been so overlooked that there doesn’t seem to be much other documentation of the plaque, despite its place inside one of The Bronx’s most famous attractions!

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I think that’s great. I would much rather see the victims of such tragedies be so directly honored than to deny that it ever happened. I’ve heard great things about the Civil Rights Museum. I hope to see it one day. And I think other places should follow suit and lose the Confederate statues already. Good job, Memphis!

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This behind some shrubs at my local Home Depot. Home%20Depot%20Television%20Arts%20and%20Sciences|690x387

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What?! That’s so cool!


In the city of Henderson, Kentucky, there’s a life size statue of Admiral Kimmel. Among Kimmel’s long line of military history, he was promoted to become the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Navy Pacific Fleet in 1941.

He was in command at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese launched the surprise attack which brought the U.S. into WWII. Seeking to place blame, Admiral Kimmel and his U.S. Army counterpart, General Walter Short, were labeled as scapegoats for politicians and superior officer in Washington that had withheld critical information about Japanese intentions from them. Kimmel retired as Rear Admiral in 1942 (and was demoted from 4 stars to 2 stars).

Though Kimmel was exonerated in 1999 by the United States Senate from being responsible for the Pearl Harbor tragedy, his 4 star rank has never been reinstated. The family of Kimmel continues to attempt to have Kimmel’s 4 star status reinstated, but it has never been granted. This statue here in Henderson, Kentucky, shows Kimmel with his 4 stars displayed on his military uniform.

Fun fact: Kimmel was the valedictorian of his high school class at age 16. And he and friends once capsized a sailboat on the Ohio River and had to be fished out from the Henderson banks., and went on to be a naval admiral.

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Amsterdam has a total of 188 monuments, memorials and plaques to commemorate the victims of the Second World War. On of the least known and most moving is the ‘Keesje’ monument in the now redeveloped eastern docklands. In the last and bitterly cold winter of the Second World War, now known as the Hunger Winter, Amsterdam was suffering from an extreme shortage of food an fuel. Keesje Brijde went from his home in east Amsterdam in search of glowing pieces of coal for his mother in the nearby railroad yards. However this area, called had been declared ‘Sperrgebiet’ by the occupying forces. On 13 December 1944 the 12-year-old boy was shot probably by a Dutch collaborator. A day later he died of his wounds. After the liberation in op May 5,1945 residents placed a wooden cross on the spot where Keesje fell. Railroad workers took over the care of the monument. After the departure of the railroad from the Eastern Docklands the task was taken over by pupils from nearby school “de 8 Mussen”. After the area was redeveloped the moment was placed in a small park named after the young war victim: Keesje Brijde Plantsoen. Pupils form the school still lay flowers at the Keesje monument each year on Remembrance Day, May 4.

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On the 11000 Block of Imperial Hwy in Norwalk CA, sits this plaque marking the Stage Coach Route between Los Angeles and San Diego. I could not find any other information through the City of Norwalk on the internet regarding the plaque

Interestingly, a short time after seeing the plaque, I had visited the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and was surprised to see a display cabinet with the same type plaque, which only had the vague description of “Concrete address milestone”. I have a feeling the museum description of the plaque misses the mark on the history and purpose of the plaque…

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Just off the coast of our sleepy little Vero Beach, Florida a German sub attack in 1942? The daring rescue of its survivors by volunteers in a fishing boat? It seems impossible that our little, Florida town was so close to the action in WWII.

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President Rutherford B. Hayes presidential Birth-site. Now a BP Gas station in Delaware Ohio, once featured on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

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This is a very odd statue and plaque in Columbia, TN. It looks like a mini-Washington Monument and it is in a small park that no one goes to. Pop Geers Memorial Park

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There’s a road sign in the middle of North Carolina that commemorates a nuke. In the 50s the Air Force accidentally dropped 2 nukes at this location and lost one. I just find it funny that 2 nuclear bombs were lost and all we get is a simple road sign.

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Where to begin? ! ? Because Edinburgh is as old as dust, let’s begin with one of each category on the Royal Mile/ High Street which is built on the remnants of a volcanic lava flow! There are the brass plaques in the shape of the letter “H” which indicate the last public execution in 1954 on the cobblestones directly across from the statue of David Hume.! !
Site-of-Last-Public-Hanging-and-Lawnmarket-Gallows-Royal-Mile-Edinburgh

John Knox’s burial site, which is now a parking lot( space No. 23!). He was the leader of the country’s Reformation & founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Located on the Southside of St. Giles Cathedral, a place where he once gave his fiery sermons.

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& finally a plaque dedicated to the former location of Edinburgh Wax Museum & Count Dracula Theatre, located at the entrance to New Assembly Close.

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On a small patch of grass adjacent to the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, in the heart of the bustling Port of Los Angeles (the Nation’s busiest shipping port), rests what looks like a tombstone. But, in fact, it is a plaque honoring a hometown (San Pedro, CA) girl, who became the first mother in space aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger…another type of ship.

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