This impressive sculptural bronze relief of local financier and civic planner Cyrus Clark (1830–1909) was created by Henry Kirke Bush-Brown (1857–1935), and dates to 1911.
Clark was an important leader in the financial community of late 19th century New York. He served as the director of the Hamilton Bank, and was a strong advocate for the commercial and residential community interests of the Upper West Side. He was a founding member of the executive committee, and was later the president of the West Side Association (WSA), formed by a group of influential businessmen in 1870 to promote public improvements north of 59th Street and west of Central Park.
In its early years, the WSA lobbied on behalf of public street and park improvements, and the extension of rapid transit to the area. They helped to bar commercial properties from West End Avenue, and promoted its exclusivity. After initiating the construction of Riverside Drive, they battled with the New York Central Railroad, and began the process—implemented in the 1930s—of covering the railroad tracks that ran through Riverside Park and disrupted its bucolic nature.
After Clark’s death, friends, neighbors, and associates came together to commission a memorial in his honor. They retained the services of the noted sculptor Henry Kirke Bush-Brown. Bush-Brown was the nephew and surrogate son of Henry Kirke Brown, who sculpted the equestrian statue of George Washington, which stands at the south side of Union Square Park at 14th Street and Broadway. He had a long and prolific career, in which he received numerous public and private commissions.
One of Bush-Brown’s best-known works is the Lincoln Memorial in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, which he completed the same year as the portrait of Cyrus Clark. In New York City, he also sculpted the figure of Justinian on the Appellate Court Building opposite Madison Square Park, and the figure of Commander Hall on the temporary Dewey Arch that once straddled Fifth Avenue at 24th Street. Brown’s relief of Clark is imbedded in a natural rock outcropping near the 83rd Street entrance to Riverside Park.
Cyrus Clark Details
- Location: Riverside Park at 83rd Street
- Sculptor: Henry Kirk Bush-Brown
- Description: Plaque on boulder
- Materials: Bronze
- Dimensions: H: 4' W: 2'5"
- Dedicated: 1911
- Donor: Gift of the West End Association
- Inscription: CYRUS CLARK / A MEMORIAL / OF HIS MANY YEARS DEVOTION / TO THE INTERESTS OF THE WEST SIDE / FROM / THE WEST END ASSOCIATION / HIS FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS /
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