City Hall Park
Horace Greeley (1811-1872) was a famous newspaper publisher as well as a social and political activist. He was born in Amherst, New Hampshire to a family of Scottish-Irish ancestry that had settled in New England several generations before his birth. His father, Zaccheus Greeley, owned a small farm. The third of six children, Horace was schooled only in winter, laboring on the farm the other seasons. Yet he proved himself a precocious child with a literary bent, and at age fourteen began a five-year stint as an apprentice at the Northern Spectator press in East Poultney, Vermont.
He learned the business well, but the paper failed. Greeley left Vermont in 1830, traveled for a time, and then arrived the following year in New York City. He worked as a journeyman printer for 14 months, also writing for the Spirit of the Times and the Constitutionalist. In 1834, he and Jonas Winchester founded a weekly periodical, the New Yorker, which Greeley edited until 1841. That year, Greeley founded the Whig party daily newspaper, the New York Tribune. As its editor, he used the publication as a pulpit for his unique brand of progressivism.
Greeley advocated for the rights of labor from improved working conditions to legal protection for unions. He was a staunch abolitionist, a supporter of protectionism, and a vocal opponent of nativism. Greeley published opinion pieces on many controversial topics such as the Mexican War and the debate over free common-school education. Though often contradictory in his public statements, Greeley was a forceful and influential political commentator. On the topic of manifest destiny and territorial expansion as they related to new economic opportunities, Greeley uttered his most famous phrase, “Go West, young man, go West.”
Greeley joined the Republican Party when it was founded in 1854. During the Civil War, he was sometimes at odds with President Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865), the party’s standard-bearer, over military and social objectives. Greeley ran for president in 1872 as a Liberal Republican, but lost handily to Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885). His wife died a few days before the election, and Greeley himself passed away a few weeks later on November 29, 1872. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn.
John Quincy Adams Ward’s (1830–1910) imposing sculpture of Horace Greeley shows him squarely seated in a tasseled armchair. Commissioned by the Tribune, and unveiled during a ceremony on September 20, 1890, the statue originally stood in a niche in front of the Tribune Building on Park (also known as Publishers) Row. The massive granite pedestal was designed by Richard Morris Hunt (1828–1895), architect of the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal. When a 1915 Manhattan borough ordinance sought to rid sidewalks of “street appurtenances,” the Tribune Association donated the sculpture to the City. The first proposal to place it in Battery Park met with a storm of protest, and instead it was installed east of City Hall in City Hall Park.
Ward has been referred to as the “Dean of American Sculptors.” He contributed eight sculptures to the parks of New York, among them Roscoe Conkling (1893) in Madison Square Park, Alexander Holley (1888) in Washington Square Park, William Earl Dodge (1885) in Bryant Park, and The Indian Hunte (1869), William Shakespeare (1872), The Pilgrim (1885), and the Seventh Regiment Memorial (1874) in Central Park.
In 1999, a $34.6 million project fully restored City Hall Park, adding a central walkway and gardens and replacing pavement with grass and trees. Parks also repaired and conserved this statue of Greeley. The work included a sensitive cleaning of surface corrosion, repatining the bronze to revive its original appearance, applications of protective coatings, and the replication of a long-missing tassel.
Horace Greeley Details
- Sculptor: Alexander Doyle
- Description: Seated figure on integral plinth (over life-size),on pedestal
- Materials: Bronze, Quincy granite (polished)
- Cast: 1892
- Dedicated: May 30, 1894
- Foundry: Henry Bonnard Bronze Co
- Donor: New York Typographical Union No. 6
- Inscription: THIS STATUE OF THE FIRST PRESIDENT / NEW YORK TYPOGRAPHICAL UNION
NO. 6 / WAS PRESENTED TO THE CITY OF NEW YORK BY / HORACE GREELY
POST NO. 577 G.A.R. / NEW YORK TYPOGRAPHICAL UNION NO.6 AND/
BROOKLYN TYPOGRAPHICAL UNION NO. 98 / GIVEN TO THE CITY OF NEW
YORK IN 1890