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Parks Monuments Conservation Crew Vintage Film, c.1934 to 1937

Credit: Karl Gruppe/Elizabeth Stover Gruppe

With support from the Federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) this film was taken in the 1930s by Karl Gruppe (1893-1982), chief sculptor of the Monument Restoration Project of the New York City Parks Department, from 1934 to 1937. It documents Gruppe’s modeling and creation of the Henry Hudson Monument in the Bronx, as well as Parks Monuments Restoration Crew activities in the late 1930s:

Timed sequences of the film: 

  1. Henry Hudson Monument: (00:00-10:15)
    1. Panning Shot of Monument at Yard (00:00-00:21)
    2. Studio Work, including small-scale maquette and revisions of full-size model (00:21-04:08)
    3. Foundry casting (04:09-06:57)
    4. On-site at park, including scaffolding with figure on ground, and after hoisting (06:58-07:45)
    5. Sculptural reliefs prior and post installation in monument (07:46-08:25)
    6. Close-up of maquettes with sculptor talking (no sound track), (08:26-10:15)
  2. Maine Monument Restoration, Central Park, Manhattan: (10:16-14:39)
    1. Vandalism stills (10:16-10:40)
    2. Figure missing bronze sword (10:41-12:02)
    3. Joinery and repointing (12:03-12:19)
    4. One year after cleaning and repointing (12:20-12:29)
    5. Repairs and reattachment of missing elements (12:30-14:18)
    6. General views of monument with traffic in background, defunct park road (14:19-14:39)
  3. Peter Cooper Conservation, Cooper Square, Manhattan: (14:40-20:10)
    1. Bronze patination with torches (14:40-15:40)
    2. Honing marble (15:41-16:02)
    3. Completion footage (16:03-16:35)
    4. Cleaning base (16:36-17:21)
    5. Communist graffiti (17:22-17:40)
    6. New rosette (17:41-17:58)
    7. “Dutchmen” repairs in process and after views (17:59-19:35)
    8. General view with pedestrians and lawn (19:36-20:10)
  4. General Sherman Restoration, Grand Army Plaza, Manhattan: (20:11-21:10)
    1. Joinery and gilding (20:11-20:37)
  5. General Grant Equestrian, Restoration, Brooklyn: (21:11-22:10)
    1. Leading joints (21:11-21:39)
    2. Cleaning granite (21:40-21:57)
    3. Post-restoration views (21:58-22:10)   
  6. William Earl Dodge Statue, Herald Square (prior to move to Bryant Park), Manhattan
    1. (El train and old New York Herald Building background), (22:11-22:45) Restoration, brushing surface and washing
  7. Josephine Shaw Lowell Fountain, Bryant Park, Manhattan, post restoration, including underwater lamps (22:46-23:08)
  8. Firemen’s Memorial, Riverside Park, Reconstruction (23:09-27:15)
    1. Sculptor Piccirilli visits site (23:09-23:38)
    2. Fire damage to granite (23:39-24:17)
    3. Cleaning, pointing, roughing stones, etc. (24:18-25:09)
    4. Nose reattachment on figure (25:10-26:35)
    5. General views of scaffold, reconstruction (26:36-27:15)
  9. Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn (27:16-28:57)
    1. Army and Navy Groups viewed (27:16-27:35)
    2. Stone and plaza cracking (27:36-28:15)
    3. Prospect Park entrance views with urns (28:16-28:35)
    4. Quadriga view (28:36-28:57)
  10. Independence Flagpole, Union Square (28:58-30:37)
    1. Man being hoisted to top of flagpole for inspection (28:58-30:03)
    2. Cleaning and repatination (30:04-30:12)
    3. Tracking shot of relief figures (30:13-30:37)
  11. Dongan Oak Monument, Prospect Park, Brooklyn (Battle Pass Marker, post-restoration), (30:38-30:49)
  12. General Hancock Bust, Hancock Square Manhattan, resetting (30:50-31:03), 13 seconds running time
  13. Joan of Arc, Riverside Park, Manhattan (31:04-31:36), Views of monument, stone repair and cleaning
  14. Columbus Monument, Columbus Circle, Manhattan (31:37-32:53), Soot on sculpture, cracking of base stones, panning shots, views of carbon build-up on statuary, views of Columbus head close-up, post-restoration
  15. William Cullen Bryant Monument, Bryant Park, Manhattan (32:54-34:18), Pre-conditions, post-restoration cleaning and stone repairs
  16. Straus Monument, Straus Park, Manhattan (34:19-34:56), Lion’s head spout repair, views of monument
  17. Washington at Valley Forge, Continental Army Plaza, Brooklyn, restoration (34:57-37:04), Full views, profile of monument, scaffolding, repatination
  18. Washington Irving, Bryant Park, (now at Washington Irving School), (37:05-37:56), Cleaning and repatination
  19. Carl Schurz Monument, Morningside Park, Manhattan (37:57-38:50)
    1. Tree removal (37:57-38:19)
    2. General views of monument with passing traffic (38:20-38:39)
    3. Ivy growth on stonework (38:40-38:50)
  20. Horse Tamers, Prospect Park, Park Circle, Brooklyn (38:51-40:35), General static views of vandalism and monument
  21. William Cullen Bryant Monument, Bryant Park, Manhattan (40:36-41:29), General views of monument after restoration

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