The Hiker statue honors those local soldiers who served in the Spanish-American War (1898–1902). Depicting a foot soldier dressed in military fatigues, with a rifle slung over his shoulder, the image (and nickname) is derived from the long marches that the infantry endured in the tropical Cuban climate and terrain. Fought primarily in Cuba and the Philippines, the conflict pitted Cuban patriots, whom the United States supported in its efforts to establish itself as a dominant power in the Western hemisphere, against Spanish colonial power. The United States defeated Spain, and after seizing the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines, emerged as a true world power.
Several versions of Hiker monuments exist across the country. This one, by Allen G. Newman (1875–1940), was copyrighted by the sculptor in 1904 and for a time served as the official monument of the United Spanish War Veterans (USWV), one of the organizations that that sponsored the Tompkinsville Park monument. One of over twenty Newman Hiker statues cast by J. Williams, Inc., a New York foundry, the pose—the style reminiscent of Newman’s teacher J.Q.A. Ward—is thought to be derived from a famous 1899 image by noted American Western artist Frederic Remington (1861–1909), then a war correspondent in Cuba. Newman Hikers are found in two sizes: a nine-foot heroic version and this seven-foot life-size version.
The statue was dedicated in 1916 and stood in front of Staten Island Borough Hall, but being frequently hit by cars, the stature was moved to its present location in 1925. Here it has been the focal point for the community’s annual Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day parades. Additional tablets, dedicated to the Daughters of the American Revolution and those who served in the Civil War and World War I, have been installed on the pedestal.
In 1998, the monument was conserved by the City Parks Foundation Monuments Conservation Program. The treatment included cleaning, repatining, and applying a protective coating to the bronze sculpture. The project was funded in part by The American Express Company, the Florence Gould Foundation, and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.
The Hiker Details
- Sculptor: Allen G. Newman
- Description: Standing figure (life size), on pedestal with four plaques
- Materials: Bronze, North Jay granite
- Dimensions: Figure H: 6'7"; Pedestal H: 6' W: 5'10" D: 5'10"; Plaques H: 1'8" W: 2'6"
- Cast: 1916
- Dedicated: 1916
- Foundry: Jno. Williams, Inc.
- Donor: Public subscription
- Inscription: 1) Pedestal north face: HIKER MONUMENT / ERECTED / IN COMMEMORATION OF / THE HEROES OF ALL WARS / IN WHICH / OUR BELOVED COUNTRY / WAS ENGAGED / FOR THE / PRICIPLES OF DEMOCRACY / AND / A LASTING CIVILIZATION [---] JOSEPH S. DECKER COM. / NO. 20 DEPT. N.Y. UNITED / SPANISH WAR VETERANS /
2) Pedestal south face: DEDICATED / TO / THE DAUGHTERS / OF THE / AMERICAN / REVOLUTION / 1776-1812 / 1848-1861-65 / 1898-1917-18 /
3) Pedestal east face: DEDICATED / TO / OUR YOUNGER COMRADES / OF THE / AMERICAN LEGION / 1917-1918 / WHO SUCESSFULLY / WAGED WAR ON FOREIGN SOIL / FOR / FREEDOM / PATRIOTISM / AND HUMANITY /
4) Pedestal west face: DEDICATED / TO / OUR OLDER COMRADES / OF / ROBERT G. SHAW POST NO. 112 / GRAND ARMY OF / THE REPUBLIC / WHO BATTLED IN THE WAR/ THAT TRIED MEN'S SOULS / AND GAVE / TO FUTURE GENERATIONS / THE HERITAGE OF / A REUNITED COUNTRY / 1861-1865 /