Pelham Bay Park
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Bronx Victory Memorial
How did this become a monument?
The efforts to create a Memorial Grove coincided with a plan to erect a unified monument that would honor all servicemen from the Bronx. Bronx Parks Commissioner Thomas J. Dolen submitted plans for the war memorial to the New York City Art Commission in the Spring of 1930. Originally proposed for a site south of Pelham Parkway and west of Baychester Avenue, the present location avoided removing 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 and a raised paved terrace in which stands a massive limestone pedestal with sculptural reliefs. At the center of the pedestal, a Corinthian column is surmounted by a gilded bronze victory figure.
New York-based architect John Joseph Sheridan was a designer for the James Gamble Rogers architectural firm and Starrett & Van Vleck Architects. He was an apt choice to design this monument, as he had served as an infantry captain in World War I. As built, the monument was approached by two gravel-grout paths with granite flagstone borders around a lavish rectangular floral bed framed by hedges.
On the south side, decorative limestone urns and terra-cotta pots flank a broad central staircase. At the terrace level, Cordova cream limestone reliefs, designed by Kinney and Scholz, depict regiments of soldiers marching into battle. Measuring 18 feet high and weighing 7,300 pounds, their striking “Lady of Victory” is poised atop a stone globe at the apex of the 70-foot-high column. The sculpture and classical column are part of a long symbolic sculptural tradition dating to Greek and Roman antiquity.
Who is this monument dedicated to?
Erected in 1932 and dedicated in an elaborate ceremony on September 24, 1933, the memorial and adjacent grove of trees on the south side of Shore Road commemorate the 947 soldiers from the Bronx who gave their lives in service during World War I. Mayor John P. O’Brien (1873–1951), Commissioner Dolen, and former acting mayor Joseph V. McKee (1889-1956) all gave addresses. 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 Mrs. Julia Zimmerman, president of the Bronx Gold Star Mothers.
Though ushered into the world with fanfare, the monument suffered over time from faulty construction, environmental erosion, and vandalism. NYC Parks crews conducted a large structural restoration in 1943, and the City funded capital improvements in 2001. During reconstruction, a time capsule from 1932 was unearthed. The contents of the capsule included contained yellowed newspapers and the WWI medals of Bronx soldiers and were ultimately given to the Bronx County Historical Society for safekeeping. On November 11, 2001, at 11 a.m., exactly 83 years after the Armistice that ended World War I, the restored monument was rededicated. A new capsule that contains documents on the site restoration, rededication materials, modern newspaper clippings, and several medals from the original capsule was interred in 2003 as part of the memorial’s plaza restoration.
Bronx Victory Memorial Details
- Location: Pelham Parkway and Eastern Boulevard
- Sculptor: Belle Kinney, Leopold F. Scholz
- Architect: John J. Sheridan
- Description: Corinthian column surmounted by standing figure (heroic scale), on pedestal with four-corner extensions bearing urns; fronted by right and left base elements each with a bas-relief; terrace with steps at front has six urns
- Materials: Column--Cordova Texas limestone; Figure--bronze; Bas-reliefs--limestone; 4 urns--limestone; 2 urns--terra cotta
- Dimensions: Column H: 75'; Figure H: 18'; Pedestal H: 18' W: 50' D: 27'; Terrace H: 3' W: 164' x D: 82'
- Cast: 1933
- Dedicated: September 24, 1933
- Donor: Public subscription
- Inscription: A GRATEFUL CITY ERECTED THIS SHAFT / TO THE GLORIOUS MEMORY / OF ITS BRONX COUNTY SONS / WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR THEIR COUNTRY IN THE WORLD WAR.
Directions to Pelham Bay Park
Know Before You Go
Pelham Bay Nature Center is currently closed to the public.
Orchard Beach Nature Center is closed to the public.
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