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Fort Greene Park

Restored Prison Ship Martyrs Monument At Fort Greene Unveiled On Its Centennial Celebration


Saturday, November 15, 2008
No. 129
http://www.nyc.gov/parks

On November 15, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe joined Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, City Council Member Letitia James, State Senator Martin Golden, State Assembly Member Joseph Lentol, members of the Fort Greene Conservancy and the entire Fort Greene community to celebrate the centennial of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument and unveiled the 15-story Doric column and bronze eagles after a recent $5 million restoration. Later in the day, as dusk approached, Parks officials and community leaders lit the monument for the first time with a spectacular lighting scheme designed to illuminate the urn, column and eternal flame at the top.

“The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument at Fort Greene Park may be 100 years old but it has never looked better,” said Commissioner Benepe. “Thanks to a recent $5 million restoration, its 15-story Doric column, urn, and plaza are a sight to see and the bronze eagles have landed after a 50-year absence. Today's monumental unveiling and lighting is a tribute to the 11,500 patriots whose bones are entombed in the crypt after perishing aboard British prison ships during the American Revolution. I am grateful to Mayor Bloomberg, Borough President Markowitz, City Council Member James and the State of New York for providing the funding to restore this monument to its majestic splendor for another century.”

Originally dedicated on November 14, 1908, at a ceremony attended by President-elect William Howard Taft, the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park underwent a $5 million restoration for its centennial. It was funded through $3.5 million from Mayor Bloomberg, $800,000 from the Borough President, $225,000 from the City Council and $350,000 from a New York State grant.

The monument was designed by McKim, Mead & White, the preeminent American architectural firm of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The monument, a massive Doric-order classical column on a double-stepped plinth, is surmounted by a ceremonial bronze urn with an eternal flame motif. Four bronze eagles adorn the corners of the plaza.

The monument honors the 11,500 patriot souls whose bones are entombed in the crypt in Fort Greene Park. During the American Revolution, they died in captivity on British prison ships anchored in Wallabout Bay in the East River.

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