The Black Angel of Iowa City
by J.S. O’Connor
If you were to take a stroll through one of Iowa City’s cemeteries you might be greeted by a nearly ten-foot black statue with large wings. The cemetery in question would be the Oakland Cemetery and the ten-foot statue would be the Black Angel. A lesser-known local legend, but a legend that is just as frightening and deadly.
The legend of the Black Angel is relatively young, as the statue was built in the early 1900s and the origins of the legend are a mystery.
The legend is as follows, if you give the angel a kiss or deface the statue in any way, you will be greeted by death. It is also said that the angel gets darker in color every Halloween for every victim it has taken.
The color change could be easily explained by the statue being made of bronze and bronze gets darker when left outdoors for extended periods of time. If the color of the statue has an explanation, then what about the image of the statue itself? Despite the color of the angel, the angel itself is not what you would expect to see. The angel’s wings are not extended to heaven but rather turned inward almost folded in and the angel is looking down instead of towards the sky. The artist commissioned to make the statue was born outside of America and gave the depiction of an angel that Americans are not used to seeing. As for where the angel is looking it is looking to the artist’s son who is buried near the angel.
Even though the image of the Black Angel is grounded in reality, this legend has still persisted since the early 1900s. It’s true that the Black Angel is rather sinister-looking, but once you know the reasons behind its appearance, the Black Angel is more beautiful than sinister. With that being said, I wouldn’t suggest tempting fate and giving the Black Angel a kiss any time soon.
The black angel, Iowa City, Iowa. RoadsideAmerica.com. (n.d.). Retrieved January 22, 2022, from https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/16409