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Riverside Park

The Daily Plant : Monday, June 2, 2008

Memorial Plaza Reopened On Memorial Day

Soldiers and Sailors Monument
Photo by Paul Evans

On a sunny Memorial Day morning, with a patriotic crowd in attendance for the annual commemoration at Riverside Park’s Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Monument, Parks cut the ribbon on the reconstruction of the adjacent Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Memorial Plaza. Among those in attendance cutting the ribbon were Commissioner Benepe, City Council Member Gale Brewer, State Assembly Members Linda Rosenthal and Felix Ortiz, Soldiers' & Sailors' Memorial Association Chair George Chall, Riverside Park Fund President James Dowell and Riverside Park Administrator John Herrold. The ceremony preceded the annual Memorial Day Commemoration and Presentation of the Wreaths that Mayor Bloomberg participated in.

“It is fitting that as we remember the service and sacrifice of our country’s veterans on Memorial Day, we cut the ribbon on the restored Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Plaza in Riverside Park,” said Commissioner Benepe. “This monument honors those New Yorkers who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the Civil War. Thanks to a generous $1 million allocation from Council Member Brewer and Mayor Bloomberg, we completely restored the monument's plaza with new pavement, benches, lighting and - most significantly – an oasis of trees, shrubs and flowers.”

The plaza reconstruction, funded with $710,000 allocated by Council Member Brewer and $378,000 from Mayor Bloomberg, includes new benches, enlarged planting beds, bluestone curbing, lighting, chess tables and an ADA–accessible drinking fountain. These improvements will provide better access and a greater variety of seating and plantings to increase enjoyment of this historic plaza.

The reconstruction was designed by Margaret Bracken. At the ceremony, Dr. Chall presented Ms. Bracken and City Council Member Brewer with special certificates of recognition for their work.

All new plant material, ground covers and shrubs were paid for by the Riverside Park Fund and installed by Parks’ Riverside Park horticulture staff. With additional funding from the Riverside Park Fund, Parks’ Forestry Division performed extensive pruning west of the Plaza, and Parks’ Monuments staff cleaned and restored the historic 1865 U.S. Army cannons.

The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, a classical marble monument surrounded by a series of formal terraces, was designed by Charles and Arthur Stoughton and completed in 1902. The monument was ideally sited on this promontory to take advantage of the spectacular river views. The plaza to the south was simple in design and materials, consisting of a bench-lined asphalt walkway leading to the entrance to the monument.

In 1937, under Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, the plaza was enlarged and extended to the west. A curved bench-lined fence line was added along the western edge to provide elevated seating which reestablished the visual connection to the waterfront. Other benches were added under the shade of newly planted American elms.


“As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, keep it.”

Mahatma Gandhi
(1869 - 1948)

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