Pleasant Plains Plaza
Pleasant Plains Plaza
This plaza is named for the surrounding neighborhood of Pleasant Plains. This area west of Prince’s Bay has also been known as the Plains and Eeltown. The development of the neighborhood dates back to the 1860s with the building of the Pleasant Plains station of the Staten Island Railroad. Pleasant Plains, primarily residential neighborhood, contains the one of the island’s largest cemeteries, the Cemetery of the Resurrection.
On June 9, 1923, a World War I (1914-1918) memorial was erected in the plaza, based on the well-known Winged Victory of Samothrace statue, which stands in Paris’s Louvre Museum. The local community raised the money and commissioned George T. Brewster, a sculptor from Tottenville, to create the $8,500 monument. Unfortunately, the statue’s location on a traffic triangle made it vulnerable to several car accidents; one in 1963 broke the statue’s arm and wrist and thoroughly dented it, and in 1965, another automobile skidded from the road, toppling the statue to the ground and severing its legs. Winged Victory was removed from the site for repairs in 1974.
While awaiting reconstruction, the statue was stolen from a city warehouse on Randalls Island. The city immediately offered to construct an obelisk as a replacement monument, but local residents rejected the offer. They proposed erecting a life-sized version of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s 1918 sculpture The Nurse, which depicts a nurse giving aid to a wounded soldier. The $25,000 price tag, however, proved too steep for the city at the time. In 1987, the pedestal on which the original statue had stood was destroyed by yet another car accident.
In 1991, former Council Member Alfred Cerullo III and Council Member Vito Fossella provided the funding for a $216,000 renovation of the entire property. The project was to include an exact replica of the original statue, recreated from photographs. For its further protection, the Pleasant Plains Plaza land was transferred to Parks from the Department of Transportation. The triangle was elevated and fenced in to avoid the automobile accidents that plagued the site for so many years. Other site improvements included a new flagpole and the planting of perennials, poppies, shrubs, and a large evergreen.
The Winged Victory replica, created by Diane and Glenn Hines and the Queens-based Modern Art Foundry, is still referred to locally as “Lady Victory” or “Winged Victory,” although it does not resemble its famous 2300 year-old cousin in the Louvre. The 10-foot tall, 700-pound Grecian-style woman stands on a globe, which sits on a pedestal along with a spread-winged eagle. She holds a sword wrapped in a palm leaf above her head. The statue’s granite base is 5 1/2 feet tall, and bears the original plaques containing names of 493 World War I veterans from Staten Island’s South Shore. The new Lady Victory and her new park were dedicated on June 9, 1996, the 73rd anniversary of her first appearance.
Once again, the Pleasant Plains Plaza and its elegant memorial statue at the junction of Amboy and Bloomingdale Roads have become a gathering place for local residents. Each holiday season, the community gathers to sing carols and decorate the tree. At the annual ceremony, children’s handmade ornaments are judged and the winners receive a prize. Throughout the year, the small ivy-covered mall provides visitors and passers-by with a reminder of their fellow Staten Islanders who gave their lives to their country, and of the dedication of a community determined not to forget them.