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The Battery

Wireless Operators Monument

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

Italian physicist and inventor Guglielmo Marchese Marconi (-1874–1937) carried out the first successful experiments of wireless technology in 1895 in Bologna. For his efforts in the field of wireless telegraphy, Marconi shared the Nobel Prize in physics with Karl Braun in 1909. His invention revolutionized communications worldwide.

This monument was commissioned in 1915 by public subscription under the auspices of the Wireless Operators. Once located near the former harbor barge office, and now situated between the park’s central lawn and the East Coast Memorial, this monument honors those wireless operators who have lost their lives at sea while performing their duties. Designed by the firm of Hewitt and Bottomley, the monument consists of an upright granite cenotaph decorated with a carved swag of seashells and foliage and inscribed with the names of the deceased, as well as a granite display fountain and two benches.

Additional bronze markers naming those who have perished have been added by the Veteran Wireless Operators Association since the monument’s dedication on May 12, 1915. The first name inscribed in the granite is that of Jack Phillips, the radio operator aboard the R.M.S. Titanic the day of its sinking on April 15, 1912. Shortly after the monument’s dedication, the well-known author Willa Cather (1876–1947) wrote about it, commenting “This monument is one of the most attractive and most friendly commemorative works in New York . . . these men died in storm and terror, but their names are brought together here and abide in a pleasant place with cheerful companionship.”

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