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Chelsea Park

Chelsea Park Memorial (Doughboy) map_it

History

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

This monument consists of a 14-foot-tall granite stele on which a bronze “doughboy” soldier is displayed. He holds a rifle, has a flag draped over his shoulders, and is depicted as if in the midst of battle.

The derivation of the term “doughboy” to describe an American soldier remains in question. It was first used by the British in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to describe soldiers and sailors who would certainly have been familiar with the fried dough dumplings known as doughboys.

In the United States, the nickname came into use during the Mexican-American War (1846–1848), and was widely popularized during World War I (1914–1918) to refer to infantrymen. Popular conjecture suggests that the name was derived from the soldiers’ uniforms. This was either because of the large globular brass shirt buttons, similar in shape to doughboy pastries, or because of the doughy clay that they had to use to clean their white uniform belts.

After the war, in which Americans saw combat in 1917-18, numerous communities commissioned doughboy statues to honor the local war heroes. The Chelsea Doughboy is one of nine such statues erected in New York City’s parks.

This memorial was placed in the heart of a working-class tenement district, and was dedicated on April 7, 1921. It was a gift to the City by the Chelsea Memorial Committee and cost $10,000. Designed by architect Charles Rollinson Lamb, the monument’s statue is by the noted sculptor Philip Martiny (1858–1927).

Martiny was born in Alsace, France, and later studied with and assisted the renowned American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848–1907). He received numerous public commissions in New York City. His other works include portrait statues and allegorical figures on the façade of the Surrogate’s Court House at 31 Chambers Street, as well as the Abingdon Square Doughboy, located at Abingdon Square, which bears strong similarities to this monument.

Photo of the Chelsea Doughboy Statue in Chelsea Park, Manhattan

Chelsea Park Memorial (Doughboy) Details

  • Sculptor: Philip Martiny
  • Architect: Charles R. Lamb
  • Description: Standing figure with integral plinth, on pedestal against integral backing wall
  • Materials: Figure--bronze; Pedestal and wall--Deer Isle granite
  • Dimensions: H: 14'3" W: 8' D: 5'6"
  • Cast: 1921
  • Dedicated: April 7, 1921
  • Foundry: Roman Bronze Works, New York
  • Donor: Chelsea Memorial Committee
  • Inscription: TO / THE SOLDIERS / AND SAILORS / OF CHELSEA / WORLD WAR / 1914 - 1918 /

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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