Pelham Bay Park
Bronx Victory Memorial and Grove
Who is this monument dedicated to?
Erected in 1932 and dedicated in an elaborate ceremony on September 24, 1933, the Bronx Victory Memorial and adjacent Memorial Grove commemorate the 947 soldiers from the Bronx who gave their lives in service during World War I.
Mayor John P. O’Brien (1873–1951), Bronx Parks Commissioner Thomas J. Dolen, and former acting mayor Joseph V. McKee (1889-1956) gave addresses at the dedication. A parade, massing of colors, aviation display, and music by the Police, Fire, and Sanitation Departments’ bands, added to the festivities. The statue was unveiled by Julia Zimmerman, president of the Bronx Gold Star Mothers. Toward the end of the ceremony, three New York Police Department aircraft flew over the memorial and dropped roses upon the grove.
How was it created?
In 1921, the American Legion planted rows of trees along the Bronx’s Grand Concourse, each with a bronze plaque dedicated to a fallen soldier. The trees were removed in 1928 when the boulevard was widened, and the subway built underneath. At the request of several veterans’ groups, the trees were consolidated into a Memorial Grove in Pelham Bay Park, between the Pelham Parkway and Eastern Boulevard (now Charles Crimini Road).
The efforts to create a Memorial Grove coincided with a plan to erect a unified monument that would honor all servicemen from the Bronx. Commissioner Dolen submitted plans for the war memorial to the New York City Art Commission in 1930. Originally proposed for a site south of Pelham Parkway and west of Baychester Avenue, the present location avoided relocating the memorial trees and a screen of buildings as a backdrop.
One of the most impressive monuments in New York City, the Bronx Victory Memorial was designed by architect and landscape architect John J. Sheridan (1888–1954), and sculptors Belle Kinney (1887–1959) and Leopold Scholz (1877–1946). It consists of a landscaped plaza with a broad central staircase flanked by decorative limestone urns and terracotta pots, which leads up to a massive Cordova cream-colored limestone pedestal with sculptural reliefs of soldiers marching into battle. A striking gilded bronze “Lady of Victory” is poised atop a stone globe at the apex of the 75-foot high Corinthian column.
The Memorial Grove is made up of two sections, a maple grove and a linden grove. To frame the vista between the monument and the grove, Norway maples were planted in an arc around the south and east sides of the monument. The maple grove is presently made up of over 100 trees. The radial pattern is still partially evident in today’s landscape, but the trees that form this pattern are generally younger and interspersed with mature trees. In addition to maples, the grove includes pin oaks, northern red oaks, and sawtooth oaks.
On the north side of Eastern Boulevard (present-day Crimi Road), a grove of linden trees was planted in a grid. Some of the lindens were removed during construction of the highway interchange in 1950, and by 1966 the original pattern was inconsistent. The grid further diminished as trees died and others were planted in new locations. There are over 100 trees in this grove, a mixture of little-leaf linden trees, silver linden trees, red maples, sweetgums, northern red oaks, willow oaks, pin oaks, bald cypress, black cherry, and crabapple trees.
By 2005, the linden grove was decimated, and the maple grove had thinned extensively. Further damage occurred to both groves over the next decade by a microburst storm in 2009 and Hurricane Irene in 2011. As part of the Bruckner Access and Connectivity Improvement Project, the New York State Department of Transportation worked with NYC Parks to replace impacted trees with new trees arranged in a grid pattern reminiscent of the original design, and enhancing key vistas of the Memorial from the Greenway paths to its north.
While the Memorial Grove, the living portion of the memorial, has evolved over time, the Bronx Victory Memorial still retains historic character-defining features that convey its significance.
Directions to Pelham Bay Park
- NYC PARKS & COUNCIL MEMBER GJONAJ TEAM UP TO REMOVE ABANDONED VESSEL FROM PELHAM BAY PARK SHORELINE
- NYC PARKS UNVEILS RENOVATED SENSORY GARDEN AT PELHAM BAY PARK IN THE BRONX
- FORGET THE VACATION- TAKE A STAYCATION: NYC PARKS UNVEILS SUMMER STAYCATION GUIDE
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