Highbridge Park

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Raoul Wallenberg Monument

History

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

Raoul Gustav Wallenberg (1912-?) grew up in one of Sweden’s wealthiest and most prominent families. Fluent in English, French, and German, Raoul would put these languages to use when he became actively involved with the plight of the Hungarian Jews in World War II. Backed by the Swedish government at the request of the American War Refugee Board, he became a friend and savior to hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Nazi-occupied Budapest.

In June 1944, the War Refugee Board appointed Raoul Wallenberg first secretary at the Swedish legation in Budapest. Here, he used drafting skills he acquired at the University of Michigan to design counterfeit Swedish passports, which he distributed on trains bound for concentration camps. He purchased as many houses, villas, and buildings as possible and adorned them with the blue and yellow colors of Sweden’s flag, turning these properties into neutral diplomatic property and safe havens for Jews. Wallenberg also organized and set up warehouses stocked with food to be distributed both as rations to the needy and bribes for Nazi officers. It has been estimated that thousands of Hungarian Jews who survived the Nazi extermination were saved by Wallenberg’s efforts.

On January 17, 1945, Wallenberg left Hungary to discuss relief plans with Russian commanders. This was the last time he would ever be seen in public. The Russian government claimed to have no knowledge of his whereabouts until 1957, when Russian documents were released that claimed Wallenberg died of a heart attack in a Russian prison in 1947. While compelling, these claims were not accompanied by any legal proof of death and to this day, Wallenberg’s fate remains unknown. Swedish officials formally declared Wallenberg legally dead in October 2016.

Raoul Wallenberg Playground lies within the greater property of Highbridge Park, along Amsterdam Avenue from 188th Street to 190th Street. Highbridge Park derives its name from New York City’s oldest standing bridge, the High Bridge (1848), which was built to carry water from the Old Croton Aqueduct over the Harlem River. The Old Croton Aqueduct was the first reliable and uninterrupted water supply system in New York City and the first of its kind ever constructed in the United States. 

Raoul Wallenberg Playground offers a structured play area for children within Highbridge Park, and is also a playground for P.S. 189, located across Amsterdam Avenue. This playground underwent a comprehensive renovation in May 1999. The project yielded new play equipment, basketball courts, safety surfacing, benches, repaving, landscaping, a spray shower, drinking fountains, and new fencing.

In addition to this playground, Wallenberg’s legacy graces three other Parks properties. Wallenberg Forest in the Bronx, Raoul Wallenberg Playground in Queen’s Forest Park, and the Raoul Wallenberg Monument adjacent to the United Nations in Manhattan were all named in his honor. These Parks’ properties remain a testament to a man whose altruism ensured the safety and survival of many human beings.

Photo of the Raoul Wallenberg Monument in Manhattan

Click map for directions

  • Five columns, each with two sides rough-hewn and two sides smooth; sphere atop column 1; replica of attaché case; cubical paving blocks
  • Five columns, each with two sides rough-hewn and two sides smooth; sphere atop column 1; replica of attaché case; cubical paving blocks
  • Five columns, each with two sides rough-hewn and two sides smooth; sphere atop column 1; replica of attaché case; cubical paving blocks
  • Five columns, each with two sides rough-hewn and two sides smooth; sphere atop column 1; replica of attaché case; cubical paving blocks
  • Five columns, each with two sides rough-hewn and two sides smooth; sphere atop column 1; replica of attaché case; cubical paving blocks
  • Five columns, each with two sides rough-hewn and two sides smooth; sphere atop column 1; replica of attaché case; cubical paving blocks
  • Five columns, each with two sides rough-hewn and two sides smooth; sphere atop column 1; replica of attaché case; cubical paving blocks

Raoul Wallenberg Monument Details

  • Location: Traffic island at 1st Avenue and East 47th Street, along Raoul Wallenberg Walk
  • Sculptor: Gustav Kraitz; Ulla Kraitz
  • Architect: Abel, Bainson, Butz
  • Description: Five columns, each with two sides rough-hewn and two sides smooth; sphere atop column 1; replica of attaché case; cubical paving blocks
  • Materials: Columns--black Swedish diabase; sphere--blue ceramic; replica of attaché case--bronze (red patina); paving blocks--basalt
  • Dimensions: Column 1 H: 14'8"; Column 2 H: 17'; Column 3 H: 13'8"; Column 4 H: 17'; Column 5 H: 18'; Sphere diameter 3'3"; paving blocks H: 6¼" L: 6¼" W: 6¼"
  • Cast: 1998
  • Dedicated: November 9, 1998
  • Foundry: Bermans Bronze Foundry, Stockholm, Sweden (attache case)
  • Fabricator: Broby Granit AB, Sibbhult, Sweden
  • Donor: Marcus Storch and family (in memory of Hilel Storch)
  • Inscription: Inscription 1: ON JANUARY 17, 1945 / RAOUL WALLENBERG / WAS DETAINED / AND IMPRISONED BY / THE SOVIET GOVERNMENT. / HIS FATE REMAINS / UNKNOWN. /

    Inscription 2: ….RAOUL WALLENBERG, / WITH EXTRAORDINARY / COURAGE AND WITH / TOTAL DISREGARD / FOR THE CONSTANT / DANGER TO HIMSELF, / SAVED THE LIVES / OF ALMOST / ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND / MEN, WOMEN, / AND CHILDREN…. / --- / -FROM THE 1981 / JOINT RESOLUTION OF CONGRESS, / MAKING / RAOUL WALLENBERG / AN HONORARY CITIZEN / OF THE UNITED STATES /

    Inscription 3: "I COULD NEVER / RETURN TO STOCKHOLM, / KNOWING THAT I HAD / FAILED TO DO / EVERYTHING / WITHIN HUMAN POWER / TO SAVE AS MANY / JEWS AS POSSIBLE" / -RAOUL WALLENBERG /

    Inscription 4: DISPLAYING GREAT / DARING AND INGENUITY, / RAOUL WALLENBERG / SAVED THE LIVES / OF COUNTLESS / HUNGARIAN JEWS / BY PLACING THEM / UNDER THE PROTECTION OF / THE SWEDISH GOVERNMENT /

    Inscription 5: DEDICATED TO / RAOUL WALLENBERG / A SWEDISH DIPLOMAT / BORN IN 1912, / WHO WAS STATIONED / IN BUDAPEST, HUNGARY / 1944-45 /

Please note, the NAME field includes a primary designation as well as alternate namingsoften in common or popular usage. The DEDICATED field refers to the most recent dedication, most often, butnot necessarily the original dedication date. If the monument did not have a formal dedication, the yearlisted reflects the date of installation.

For more information, please contact Art & Antiquities at (212) 360-8163

Directions to Highbridge Park

Know Before You Go

Recreation Centers
Highbridge Recreation Center

Please be advised that the Highbridge Recreation Center gymnasium will be closed for an Employee Recognition Event on October 19 from 1 p.m. to October 20, at 2 p.m. We apologies for any inconvenience caused.

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