This mural titled “The Essentials” and painted on a vacant storefront near the Six Corners intersection on the Northwest Side was recently completed by artist Cyd Smillie.

This mural titled “The Essentials” and painted on a vacant storefront near the Six Corners intersection on the Northwest Side was recently completed by artist Cyd Smillie.

Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

Murals reflect Chicago’s appreciation for first-responders

Firefighters, cops and others on the front lines in dealing with life during the coronavirus get a nod in works at Six Corners, in Jefferson Park, elsewhere around the city and in Niles.

SHARE Murals reflect Chicago’s appreciation for first-responders
The sacrifices made by Chicago-area police officers and firefighters even before the pandemic that’s putting them on a new and dangerous front line are recognized with murals in the city and suburbs celebrating and honoring first-responders.

Chicago’s murals and mosaics sidebar

Chicago’s murals & mosaics

Part of a series on public art in the city and suburbs. More murals are added every week.

Among them: one that was completed in December on the side of a firehouse in Niles.

Since the coronavirus pandemic erupted, a more-temporary “board-up” mural was completed on a vacant storefront near Six Corners on the Northwest Side as a way to say thanks not only to cops and firefighters but to all who are risking their health and safety by working to provide essential services and goods.

Artist Cyd Smillie.

Artist Cyd Smillie.

Provided

Those two murals were painted by artist Cyd Smillie. It’s important to “have it be known how grateful we all are that these people are still going to work,” Smillie says.

Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford says of the effort: “In times like this, where you’re uncertain about your own safety, it’s nice to see that someone has taken the time to graphically reassure us they’re in our corner.”

Here’s a look at some of the first-responder murals:

4000 block of North Milwaukee

Smillie’s latest addition to Chicago’s mural scene is a superhero-esque painting thanking workers who are on the front lines during the pandemic. A play off of Marvel’s “The Avengers,” Smillie’s “The Essentials” depicts construction crews, first-responders, garbage haulers and restaurant workers.

Dempster/Cumberland, Niles

Painted in vivid red, blue and green hues, “Out of the Fire” was completed by Smillie in December at a Niles fire station, with images of a truck and firefighters on the job.

A Cyd Smillie mural, completed in December, on the side of a Niles fire station.

A Cyd Smillie mural, completed in December, on the side of a Niles fire station.

Provided

Smillie talked with firefighters at the station about themes, and “they requested the focus not be on the fires that make great movies and TV shows” but “on community activism.”

Smillie says the firefighters helped with some of the painting.

Jefferson Park police station

With Chicago’s skyline and flag as the backdrop, Smillie’s Jefferson Park police station mural shows an officer shaking hands with a protester. Created in 2014, the mural was meant to make a boarded-up wall at the station less “off-putting for the neighborhood” and to send a message about police interactions with the public.

Cyd Smillie’s 2014 mural at the Jefferson Park police station on the Northwest Side.

Cyd Smillie’s 2014 mural at the Jefferson Park police station on the Northwest Side.

Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

Addison/Lincoln

“First Ones In, Last Ones Out” was created by Chicago Mural Works in 2002 to commemorate firefighters after 9/11 and was redone in 2012. The mural, in a viaduct, features a Chicago Fire Department emblem flanked by the Chicago and American flags.

“First Ones In, Last Ones Out,” completed in 2002 to recognize firefighters after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“First Ones In, Last Ones Out,” completed in 2002 to recognize firefighters after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

Across the street is a smaller mural dedicated to police and firefighters, urging people to “Remember 9-11.”

Mural on a business on the 3600 block of North Lincoln Avenue recognizes police and firefighters.

Mural on a business on the 3600 block of North Lincoln Avenue recognizes police and firefighters.

Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

Fireman’s Park

At a small park at Kimball and Milwaukee avenues called Fireman’s Park, there’s a decades-old mural by artist Jose Luis Berrios dedicated to fire Capt. Daniel Nockels and firefighters Michael Forchione and Michael Talley, who died battling a fire set by an arsonist in 1985.

This mural honors three Chicago firefighters who died in 1985.

This mural honors three Chicago firefighters who died in 1985.

Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

An inscription at the park honors “those who are brave enough to risk their life in order that another be saved.”

Olmsted/Ogallah

Located along Metra’s Union Pacific Northwest Line in Edison Park, there’s a mural dedicated to Christopher Wheatley, who died fighting a kitchen fire at a restaurant in 2010. Painted a few months later by fellow Chicago firefighter Michael Agostinelli, the mural paid tribute to his friend and coworker.

Wheatley — who “had a huge heart,” according to his sister Kim Skubic — is shown smiling, with rays of sunshine in the background on the mural painted on a community wall outside an auto repair shop.

This mural along the Metra tracks on the Far Northwest Side pays tribute to Christopher Wheatley, a Chicago firefighter killed while fighting a fire in 2010.

This mural along the Metra tracks on the Far Northwest Side pays tribute to Christopher Wheatley, a Chicago firefighter killed while fighting a fire in 2010.

Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

“We should always remember these heroes are on the front lines everyday,” Skubic says.

Montrose/Knox

“End of Watch” honors fallen Chicago police officers in a mural on Montrose Avenue near the Kennedy Expressway. Designed by graphic designer Jill Arena and painted by Smillie, the 2012 mural was inspired by the death of Officer Michael Flisk, shot to death in 2010 while investigating a vehicle burglary on the South Side.

Shaded in blue, it features a portrait of a woman with a single red teardrop.

This mural, honoring fallen Chicago police officers, was completed in 2012.

This mural, honoring fallen Chicago police officers, was completed in 2012.

Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

Created as a memorial for Flisk, the project was extended to pay tribute to more than 500 officers, including Cmdr. Paul Bauer, who was killed in the Loop in 2018.

Elston/Whipple

This mural, done by numerous artists, celebrates Chicago firefighters. It’s down the street from a North Side firehouse.

This mural celebrates Chicago firefighters.

This mural celebrates Chicago firefighters.

Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

Click on the map below for a selection of Chicago-area murals

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