Continental Army Plaza
This striking equestrian sculpture of George Washington (1732–1799), Commander in Chief and first President of the United States (1789–97) serves as the centerpiece of Brooklyn’s Continental Army Plaza.
Located at the approach to the Williamsburg Bridge, the statue was dedicated in 1906, and was presented to the City by Congressman James R. Howe and the Committee of Supervision and Construction. It was sculpted by Henry Mervin Shrady (1871–1922), a life-long New Yorker, who was commissioned to make the statue after winning a design competition in 1901. Washington at Valley Forge was his first major public work. He subsequently created other major public monuments including the Grant Memorial at the foot of the Capital Grounds in Washington, D.C., and the Robert E. Lee equestrian statue in Charlottesville, Virginia. George Washington at Valley Forge was cast at Roman Bronze Works in Brooklyn. It is anchored to a granite base designed by Lord and Hewlett.
Shrady depicts the Commander in Chief during the six month period from December 1777 to June 1778 when the Continental Army was encamped at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania between Philadelphia, where the British were stationed, and York, the temporary seat of the Continental Congress. Though the winter took a terrible toll, with an estimated one fourth of the 10,000 soldiers perishing, the army left in the spring intact, largely due to Washington’s capacity as a leader. Shrady’s image in bronze portrays Washington in a vulnerable pose of contemplation, shrouded in a cloak to protect him from the severe weather--a far cry from the proud pose of benediction which may be seen in Henry Kirke-Brown’s equestrian statue of the commander in Union Square, Manhattan. The sculpture and pedestal underwent cleaning and conservation during a 1997 City renovation of the park.
George Washington at Valley Forge Details
- Sculptor: Henry Merwin Shrady
- Architect: Lord and Hewlett
- Description: Equestrian figure on pedestal, tablet
- Materials: Bronze, Somesound granite
- Dimensions: Statue: H:13' D:15'3"; Pedestal H: 18'8" x W: 8' D: 15'; Tablet H: 2'1" x 3'5"w; Plinths H: 1'6" W: 25'10" D: 32'8"
- Cast: 1906
- Dedicated: 1906
- Donor: James R. Howe
- Inscription: VALLEY FORGE/ THIS MONUMENT IS PRESENTED TO THE CITY/ BY JAMES R. HOWE / MEMBER OF 54TH-55TH U.S. CONGRESS / AND REGISTER OF KINGS COUNTY / COMMITTEE OF SUPERVISION AND CONSTRUCTION / 22 FEBRUARY 1901 / CHARLES A. SCHILREN, JAMES H. POST, HENRY BATTERMAN, / E.H.M. ROEHR, ANDREW AND WILLIAM BERRI, THOMAS P. PETER, / EDWARD M. GROUT, I.F. FISHER, JOSEPH W. KAY, E. DWIGHT/ CHUCH, G.H. TIEBOUT, GILBERT B. MASTERS, THOMAS H. / HULL, HUBERT G. TAYLOR, HERMAN SCHWICKART, ANDREW MC / LEAN, GEO. W. SCHAEDLE, HERBERT E. GUNNISON, JAMES D. / BELL, M.S. KENNEDY, GEORGE W. BRUSH, GEORGE W. BROWER, / I.S. REMSON, H.M. ROEHR, N.W. WELLS, GEO. R. VALENTINE, / JOHN F. CLARKE, DAVID GIFFING, NATHAN H. ROBERTS, / D.G. DOWNEY /