Press Releases

Friday, February 13, 2004
No. 17


This Presidents’ Day, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation reminds New Yorkers there are 23 city parks and over three dozen sculptures, markers or flagpoles honoring United States presidents, including 10 sculptures depicting George Washington or Abraham Lincoln.

“Visiting New York City parks is a great way get outdoors and learn more about two of our nation’s greatest leaders,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “Though February marks the birthdays of both Washington and Lincoln, there are many other sculptures worthy of a visit this Presidents’ Day, including Madison Square Park’s bronze statue of Chester Arthur and other memorials in parks around the City.”

Presidents’ Day, celebrated on the third Monday of February, was established as a national holiday in 1968. It combined holidays marking the anniversary of Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays (February 22 and February 12, respectively) but officially honors all past presidents.

Below is a list of sculptures and monuments honoring George or Abe in New York City parks:

George Washington Statue, Union Square Park
This impressive bronze equestrian portrait of Washington is the oldest sculpture in the New York City Parks collection. It was modeled by Henry Kirke Brown (1814–1886) and dedicated in 1865. The moment Brown depicts is that of Evacuation Day, November 25, 1783, when Washington reclaimed this city from the British. His outstretched hand echoes many ancient sculptures like the Marcus Aurelius statue in Rome. Brown also sculpted the statue of Abraham Lincoln on the north side of park.

Abraham Lincoln Statue, Union Square Park
This larger-than-life bronze by Henry Kirke Brown (1814–1886) stands vigil on a busy crossroads at the north end of Union Square Park. Dedicated in 1870, Abraham Lincoln was conserved in 1992.

George Washington Sculptures at Washington Square Arch, Washington Square Park
Designed by architect Stanford White, the Arch was dedicated in 1895. Washington as Commander-in-Chief, Accompanied by Fame and Valor was designed by Hermon Atkins MacNeil and was installed in 1916. Washington as President, Accompanied by Wisdom and Justice, was designed Alexander Stirling Calder and was installed in 1918. The Arch is currently being restored by the City for $3 million and will be completed late spring.

George Washington Sculpture, (inside City Hall)
This sculpture of Washington by the eminent sculptor Jean Antoine Houdon once stood at Riverside Park at 89th Street. It now greets visitors to City Hall.

Lafayette and Washington Statues, Lafayette Square (114th St. and Morningside Ave.)
After completing the Statue of Liberty, French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904) was commissioned by publisher Joseph Pulitzer to design this bronze statue depicting Washington and his esteemed Major General. Bartholdi completed the original in Paris, and department store owner Charles Broadway Rouss bequeathed to the City a fine replica to New York.

George Washington Statue, Flushing Meadows Corona Park (near Fountain of the Fairs)
This sculpture is a cast of an original Donald Delue sculpture, displayed at the 1964 World’s Fair. When it was repaired and conserved in 1999, new cherry trees were planted in recognition of the childhood tale in which Washington’s honesty was confirmed through his confession of chopping down a cherry tree.

George Washington at Valley Forge, Continental Army Plaza (at Williamsburg Bridge)
This striking equestrian sculpture was sculpted by Henry Mervin Shrady, a life-long New Yorker. The sculpture depicts him during the six month period from December 1777 to June 1778 when the Continental Army was encamped at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Shrady’s image in bronze portrays Washington in a vulnerable pose of contemplation, shrouded in a cloak to protect him from the severe weather. The sculpture and pedestal underwent cleaning and conservation during a 1997 City renovation of the park.

Abraham Lincoln Statue, Prospect Park Concert Grove
This larger-than-life bronze by Henry Kirke Brown was dedicated in 1869. It is quite similar to a sculpture of Lincoln in Union Square, also by Brown, finished a year before Brooklyn’s version, but not dedicated until a year afterwards. This statue thus became the first statue of Lincoln erected in the Union. An extensive restoration in 1989 was funded by the Lincoln Savings Bank through the Municipal Art Society’s Adopt-A-Monument Program.

Abraham Lincoln Relief, Sailors and Soldiers Arch, Grand Army Plaza
Installed in 1895, this relief—along with one of Ulysses Grant—were the combined efforts of Thomas Eakins and William O'Donovan. Eakins sculpted the two horses and O'Donovan created the figures themselves.

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