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Pelham Bay Park

American Boy map_it

History

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

This massive salvaged limestone sculpture by the French-born artist Louis St. Lannes of a partially clad male youth once adorned a temple-like niche in Rice Stadium in Pelham Bay Park.

In 1919 Julia Rice, offered the City of New York $1,000,000 to erect a recreational facility in memory of her late husband--lawyer, financier and inventor Isaac Rice (1850-1915). The location chosen for this facility was the southern end of Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx, not far from the battery factory which Rice owned and operated.

The elaborate classically styled stadium and indoor recreational building, erected in the early 1920s, included decorative Olympics-inspired friezes by Charles Cary Rumsey (1879-1922), as well as the statue of American Boy, which was installed on a pedestal at the top of the grandstand, and covered by a pedimented canopy.

Over the years, the cost of the stadium’s upkeep proved to be a burden the City could not bear, and the stadium’s structural integrity declined to such an extent that it was deemed a public safety hazard, and demolished through an emergency contract in 1989. The sculpture of American Boy, an inspiration for decades to stadium participants and spectators, was also the frequent target of vandalism. The statue made a cameo appearance in the 1990 Hollywood movie True Love, filmed in 1989 shortly before the stadium’s demise and released in 1990. Extensively eroded and badly damaged, the artwork was secured at that time.

American Boy is inspired by the stylized aesthetic ancient art of the Archaic Greek period. It was intended to embody the spiritual ideals of American youth, and serve as an allegorical representation of healthful recreation. The sculpture was restored in 2002 through a city capital project and placed adjacent to a new running track in the vicinity of the former stadium.

American Boy Details

  • Location: Bruckner Blvd, Eastchester, Hutchinson
  • Sculptor: Louis Saint-Lanne
  • Description: Standing male figure with plaque mounted on front of pedestal
  • Materials: Figure and pedestal--Indiana limestone; plaque--bronze
  • Dimensions: Figure H: 15'; Plaque H: 2'1" W: 2'9"
  • Cast: ca. 1932
  • Dedicated: 1932
  • Donor: Wife and children of Isaac L. Rice
  • Inscription: AMERICAN BOY / 1932 / PELHAM BAY PARK / THIS LIMESTONE SCULPTURE ONCE STOOD AT THE TOP OF THE GRANDSTAND OF RICE STADIUM IN PELHAM BAY PARK. / THE STADIUM, BUILT IN THE EARLY 1920S AND FUNDED THROUGH A GIFT OF JULIA RICE IN MEMORY OF HER LATE / HUSBAND ISAAC RICE, WAS DEMOLISHED IN 1989. THE STATUE WAS RESTORED IN 2002 , AND REINSTALLED IN 2004. / IT HAS BEEN PLACED ON A NEW PEDESTAL NOT FAR FROM ITS ORIGINAL LOCATION. KNOWN AS THE AMERICAN BOY, / THIS STATUE WAS SCULPTED BY LOUIS ST. LANNES. THE PIECE WAS INTENDED TO REFLECT AN IDEAL OF YOUTH. / THE ORIGINAL PLAQUE TEXT READ: /

    "YOUTH IS ENTITLED TO FREEDOM / THE FUTURE OF CIVILIZATION DEPENDS / UPON OUR CHILDREN. IT IS / ESSENTIAL IF WE CAN HOPE FOR HUMAN / PROGRESS. THAT CHILDREN SHOULD BE / UNFETTERED BY THE DOMINATION / AND THE CONVENTIONS OF THE PAST. / WE OWE TO YOUTH AN UNTRAMMELED / HAPPINESS GUIDED BUT NOT STULTIFIED / BY STERN OBEDIENCE TO RIGID / RULES SET DOWN BY THEIR ELDERS. / THE PROPER SPIRIT OF PLAY MUST BE / ENCOURAGED: IT IS THE NATURAL / INSTINCT OF THE YOUNG. / HEALTHY CLEAN MIND IN A STRONG / CLEAN BODY IS THE IDEAL / FOR WHICH WE SHOULD STRIVE." /

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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Pelham Bay Park Weather

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