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Bryant Park

Benito Juarez

History

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

This monument depicts Benito Juárez (1806–1872), one of Mexico’s most loved political figures and the first Mexican figure to be commemorated with a city monument. Mexican sculptor Moises Cabrera Orozco (b. 1936) created the piece, which portrays Juárez leaning on a tablet with his quotation, “Respect for the rights of others is peace,” inscribed in both Spanish and English. The granite pedestal was designed by TEN Arquitectos. The monument, dedicated on October 9, 2004, was sponsored by the Mexican state of Oaxaca on behalf of the Mexican Government with additional support from the Mexican Trade Center.

A Zapotec Indian, Juárez came from humble origins. Born in Guelatao, Oaxaca in 1806, he later joined the seminary and eventually studied law. Once governor of Oaxaca and a major reform figure, he was later exiled, spending time in New Orleans before returning to Mexico during the Mexican Civil War (1858–1861). After the victory of the reformers, Juárez became Mexico’s first indigenous president, serving from 1861 to 1863. He served again from 1867 to 1872 during a tumultuous period in which reformers helped stave off a French invasion and preserve Mexico’s independence. As a force in Mexico’s shift to a democratic society, he is revered as one of Mexico’s greatest political leaders. Juárez died of heart failure in Mexico City in 1872.

The Juárez Monument stands along Avenue of the Americas between 41st and 42nd Streets, on the perimeter of Bryant Park, in a symmetrical position to the existing sculpture of José Bonidacio de Andrada e Silva (1763–1838), the Brazilian leader. With the addition of Juárez, seven sculptures of Latin American leaders now overlook the Avenue of the Americas. A sculpture of Uruguayan independence leader and national hero General José Artigas (1764–1850) stands in Soho Square, Juan Pablo Duarte (1813–1876), considered the Father of the Dominican Republic is at Canal Street. At Central Park South are statues of the Cuban patriot, journalist and poet, José Martí (1853–1895), Argentine General José de San Martín (1778–1850) and South American liberator Simón Bolívar (1783–1830).

Sculptor Moises Cabrera Orozco was born in Juchitán, Oaxaca, in 1936, and is related to the Mexican social-realist painter and muralist Jose Clemente Orozco. He studied at La Esmeralda National School of Painting and Sculpture and the San Carlos Academy. Cabrera founded and directed the National School of Art in Mexico City. His notable Mexican works include the Monument to the September Heroes, the Monument to the Mexican Soldier, the Seven Arms Chandelier, and the Catus Sculpture. He also has done work in Japan, Italy, Cuba, Guatemala, Costa Rica, France, Argentina and Puerto Rico.

Continuing maintenance for the monument has been endowed by the Mexican Government and the Mexican Trade Center, and seasonal plantings are provided by the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation.

Benito Juarez Details

  • Sculptor: Moises Cabrera Orozco
  • Architect: Enrique Norten
  • Description: Full-size portrait sculpture on bronze base
  • Materials: Bronze
  • Dimensions: H: 5'5"
  • Cast: 2002, Mexico
  • Dedicated: October 9, 2004
  • Foundry: Mexico
  • Donor: State of Oaxaca on behalf of the Mexican Government, Mexican Trade Center
  • Inscription: Front pedestal:
    BENITO JUAREZ / 1806-1972 / PRESIDENT OF MEXICO (1858-1872) / BORN IN GUELATAO, OAXACA, OF HUMBLE ORIGINS. JUAREZ ESTABLISHED / THE FOUNDATION FOR THE MEXICAN REPUBLIC. IN 1867, HE DEFEATED / THE FRENCH INVASION, THUS PRESERVING THE INDEPENDENCE OF MEXICO. / GIFT FROM THE PEOPLE AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE STATE OF OAXACA, MEXICO TO THE CITY OF NEW YORK. /

    On tablet:
    EL RESPETO AL / DERECHO AJENO / ES LA PAZ / RESPECT FOR THE / RIGHTS OF OTHERS / IS PEACE /

    Proper right side pedestal:
    BENEMERITO DE / LAS AMERICAS /

Please note, the NAME field includes a primary designation as well as alternate namings often in common or popular usage. The DEDICATED field refers to the most recent dedication, most often, but not necessarily the original dedication date. If the monument did not have a formal dedication, the year listed reflects the date of installation.

For more information, please contact Art & Antiquities at (212) 360-8143

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