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The Battery

Walloon Settlers Monument

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This nearly ten-foot-tall granite stele at the northwest corner of Battery Park by Castle Clinton was designed by noted architect Henry Bacon (1866–1924). The monument and its gilded inscription commemorates the Walloon Settlers, a group of 32 Belgian Huguenot families who joined the Dutch in 1624 on the ship Nieu Nederland (“New Netherland”) to colonize New Amsterdam, in what is now called the island of Manhattan. Architect Bacon also designed Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Memorial (1911-22) and Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Pool (1922).

The Walloons were natives of the County of Hainaut in Belgium who had fled to nearby Holland to escape religious persecution. Made to feel unwelcome in Holland, the Walloons, led by Jesse de Forest, first appealed to the British in 1621 for permission to settle in the British-controlled Virginia colony. When their request to the British was denied, they petitioned the Dutch West India Company to allow them to settle in the Dutch-controlled colony of New Amsterdam. Their application was granted and the Walloons left Holland in March 1624, landing in New York on May 20, 1624.

The piece was dedicated May 20, 1924, the 300th anniversary of the Walloon settlers’ arrival in New York. The monument was a gift of the Conseil Provincial du Hainaut and is made of Hainaut granite, a Belgian stone. That year Governor Alfred E. Smith (1873-1944) and the New York State Senate issued an official proclamation recognizing the Walloons’ place in New York history and the Federal Government issued three commemorative stamps and a silver 50-cent coin to mark the anniversary. The monument was relocated from the northeast part of the park to its current location as a result of the construction of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel during the late 1940s and early 50s.

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