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, had 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.
This bronze sculpture by Alexander Doyle (1857–1922) was cast in 1892 and dedicated on May 31, 1894. The Greeley Post of the Grand Army of the Republic, the New York Typographical Union, local Number 6, (of which Greeley had served as president), and the Brooklyn Typographical Union, Number 98 commissioned the statue. Although first slated for installation in City Hall Park, midtown’s rapid commercial development in the 1890s, which included the construction of the New York Herald Building (1892-95), influenced the decision to place the monument at its current location. Another statue of Greeley now stands in City Hall Park.
Sculptor Alexander Doyle was born in Steubenville, Ohio. He studied sculpture in Italy, at the National Academies in Carrara and Florence. He is responsible for numerous public sculptures in the United States, including bronze statues of General Robert E. Lee and General Philip Schuyler, as well as several sculptural portraits in Statuary Hall at the Capitol in Washington, D. C.
This sculpture originally stood adjacent to the Sixth Avenue elevated train station. The elevated train ceased operation in 1938; and when the underground subway station opened in 1940, the statue was relocated to the southern end of the park. At that time, the Parks Monuments Crew crafted a new base and the statue’s bronze was cleaned and repatinated. In 1999, in conjunction with renovations to this park funded by the City and the 34th Street Partnership, the City Parks Foundation Monuments Conservation Program gave the statue another restoration.
Horace Greeley Details
- Sculptor: John Quincy Adams Ward
- Architect: Richard Morris Hunt
- Description: Seated figure (over life-size) on integral plinth, on pedestal
- Materials: Bronze, Quincy granite (polished)
- Dimensions: Figure H: 7'2'; Plinth H: 5" W: 5'8" D: 6'8"; Pedestal H: 5'7" W: 5'8" D: 6'8"
- Cast: 1890
- Dedicated: 1916
- Foundry: Henry Bonnard Bronze Co
- Donor: Tribune Association
- Inscription: HORACE GREELEY / FOUNDER OF / THE NEW YORK TRIBUNE /