Robert Fulton (1765–1815) was an American engineer and inventor, best remembered for his successful powering of the steamboat North River (also known as Clermont) in 1807. His invention helped to revolutionize commercial traffic worldwide and was said to increase the economic and cultural exchange between countries.
In 1872, the Society of Old Brooklynites commissioned this larger-than-life sculptural portrait of Fulton, describing him as having done “more than any other to promote and establish the use of steam in transportation of passengers and freight.” The statue by Casper Buberl (1834–1899) depicts Fulton holding a model of the Nassau, the first steam ferry from Brooklyn to New York. It is said to be one of the first sculpture castings in America and was made by Messrs. Leetg & Co. of Williamsburg.
The residents of Brooklyn Heights erected the original zinc statue of Robert Fulton near the Fulton Ferry House at the foot of Fulton Street. When the ferry was discontinued, the statue was sent to the Brooklyn Bridge Yard of the Department of Plant and Structures. It remained there until the Society of Old Brooklynites sought a new location for the monument. Brooklyn Parks Commissioner James J. Browne suggested Fulton Park. The Society recovered the sculpture and had it repaired in 1930; additional repairs and replication of missing parts were made by Parks crews in 1935.
In 1955 a new polished black granite base replaced the cast stone pedestal, the statue was replicated in more durable bronze, and the original deteriorated zinc sculpture placed at that time in the collection of the Museum of the City of New York. This replica was conserved in 2001 by the NYC Citywide Monuments Conservation Program. In 2010 the original sculpture was given to the Brooklyn Museum, where it is displayed.
Robert Fulton Details
- Location: Schenectady Avenue and Fulton Street
- Sculptor: Caspar Buberl
- Description: Standing figure (heroic scale) on integral plinth on pedestal
- Materials: Figure--bronze, pedestal facing--dark Quincy granite (polished)
- Dimensions: Figure H: 10'6"; pedestal H: 4'6" W: 5'3" D: 5'3"
- Cast: 1955
- Dedicated: 1955
- Foundry: Roman Bronze Works, Inc.;