Togo to go: Bronze Dog Statue in Seward Park is Relocated
The bronze dog sculpture near the East Broadway entrance to Seward Park is easy to miss. Before its relocation last week, he had been buried in the brush, guarding the small children’s playground (i.e. the tot lot).
Now, as part of the ongoing $6.4 million “Parks Without Borders” renovations, he’s on the move.
So this might be a good time to tell his story…
It starts with the park itself, named for Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William H. Seward, who purchased the Alaska territory from Russia in 1867 for $7 million. The politician was chastised, with the press quick to nickname the transaction as Seward’s folly.
In keeping with the Alaska theme, the bronze statue is fashioned in the likeness of Togo (not to be confused with Dorothy’s companion), a contemporary of the world-famous sled dog Balto. Both huskies were part of Leonhard Seppala’s relay expedition that, in 1925, delivered anti-dyptheria serum to the small city of Nome (“The Great Race of Mercy”) in order to curb an imminent health epidemic. Twenty mushers pushed 150 sled dogs some 674 miles in five-and-a-half days.
Most of the attention is usually bestowed upon Balto, with Togo getting the short end of the rod. No movies were made about him and tourists don’t flock to this sculpture like in Central Park. Yet Togo was the sled dog that led the mission through the most dangerous part of the expedition. History tells us that Balto was merely the backup (nay, the handoff) on the last leg of the journey who stole the spotlight.
Togo the dog has taken on new meaning for the Seward Park Conservancy, which is at the forefront of the current remodeling. The mantra compares Togo to the plight of the park in the sense that this lesser-known city treasure will ultimately finish the race.