Pleasant Plains Plaza
The Daily Plant : Monday, December 29, 2003
THREE STATEN ISLAND MONUMENTS
Staten Island, in addition to having more acres of parkland than any other borough, is also home to many monuments. Many of these sculptural works are historically relevant and offer insight into local life and its relationship with the nation, making them important sites to this day. The Daily Plant offers three monuments in Staten Island worthy of a visit.
Pleasant Plains Memorial (Pleasant Plains Plaza)
The bronze victory figure created by sculptor and Tottenville resident George Thomas Brewster (1862-1943) was originally dedicated on June 9, 1923. Local residents raised funds for the sculpture and commemorative tablets that honor the 493 soldiers and sailors from the Fifth Ward of Staten Island, including the 13 who lost their lives in combat, who served in World War I. The female figure stands on a granite pedestal holding a sword and palm frond high in the air while an eagle with its wings spread sits at her feet.
Formerly in a narrower traffic island at the juncture of Amboy and Bloomingdale Roads, the Pleasant Plains Monument was damaged by vehicles in 1968 and 1970. After the second accident it was removed to storage; at some point it mysteriously disappeared. The present sculpture, recreated from historic photographs, was modeled by Glenn Hines, fabricated by Modern Art Foundry of Queens, and reinstalled in this expanded and improved site in 1996, and rededicated nearly 74 years later on June 8, 1997.
The Hiker (Tompkinsville Park)
The Hiker statue honors those local soldiers who served in the Spanish-American War (1898-1902). Depicting a foot soldier dressed in military fatigues, with a rifle slung over his shoulder, the image (and nickname) is derived from the long marches that the infantry endured in the tropical Cuban climate and terrain.
Several versions of Hiker monuments exist across the country. This one, by Allen G. Newman (1875-1940), was copyrighted by the sculptor in 1904 and for a time served as the official monument of the United Spanish War Veterans (USWV), one of the organizations that that sponsored the Tompkinsville Park monument. One of over twenty Newman Hiker statues cast by J. Williams, Inc., a New York foundry, the pose-the style reminiscent of Newman's teacher J.Q.A. Ward-is thought to be derived from a famous 1899 image by noted American Western artist Frederic Remington (1861-1909), then a war correspondent in Cuba. Newman Hikers are found in two sizes: a nine-foot heroic version and this seven-foot life-size version.
The statue was dedicated in 1916 and stood in front of Staten Island Borough Hall, but being frequently hit by cars, the stature was moved to its present location in 1925.
Neptune Fountain (Snug Harbor Cultural Center)
This fountain on the East Lawn of Sailors' Snug Harbor Cultural Center depicts a heroic-sized Neptune figure atop a serpent with his spear poised to strike. In 1892 New York City's John W. Fiske Iron Works cast the original piece in zinc and painted it bronze to keep costs low. Over the years the figure deteriorated and Neptune lost his hands, an arm, and a foot.
This replica is based on original plans using historic photographs and wax casts from the original zinc monument. After being recast by the Modern Art Foundry in Queens, Neptune returned via the Staten Island Ferry to a reconstructed spot at the site. The 1994 reconstruction included rebuilding the original cast-iron fountain basin, updating the electrical system and plumbing, and fabricating by hand the ornamental lily flowers. The surrounding area was re-landscaped and benches were added to the site while the original Neptune was stabilized and placed indoors on view in the Visitor's Center.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"A source of innocent merriment!"
Sir W. S. Gilbert