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Bridge Playground

Highbridge Doughboy Statue

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

Consigned for more than two decades to Parks’ monument storage, the Highbridge Doughboy once stood proudly at a small park triangle at Ogden and University Avenues in the University Heights or Highbridge section of the Bronx. It was erected to honor the 21 local servicemen who died while serving their country in World War I.

The bronze sculpture was fabricated by the local J. M. Fiske Iron works and Max Hausle, architect of several parks comfort stations, including that at Keltch Park, is credited with the monument’s design.

The derivation of the term doughboy remains in question. It was first used by the British in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to describe soldiers and sailors. In the United States the nickname was coined during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), and was widely popularized during World War I (1914-1918) to refer to infantrymen. After the war, in which Americans saw combat in 1917-18, numerous communities commissioned doughboy statues to honor the local war heroes. The Highbridge Doughboy is one of nine such statues erected in New York City’s parks.

The monument was commissioned by the Highbridge Regular Democratic Club at a cost of $6,000, and was dedicated in 1923. The statue depicts a stoic, helmeted soldier, who once gripped a rifle. In 1974 the three bronze honor rolls fastened to the granite pedestal were stolen, and in 1976 the rifle was also removed by vandals. Parks salvaged what remained of the damaged sculpture, and presently seeks funds to restore the sculpture to its rightful place, and to landscape the setting.

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