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SOLDIERS’ AND SAILORS’ MONUMENT – NEW YORK CITY – MEMORIAL DAY – MAY 27 2013

May 27, 2013

SOLDIERS’ AND SAILORS’  MONUMENT

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument

In 1893, the New York State legislature established a Board of Commissioners for a monument to the soldiers and sailors who had served in the Union Army during the Civil War. However, no work was done on the planning of the memorial until 1897 when the Board held a design competition that the brothers Charles W. (1860-1944) and Arthur A. (1867-1955) Stoughton won. Their design was known as the “Temple of Fame.” Paul E. M. DuBoy, who also planned the Ansonia Hotel, designed the sculptures in and around the monument.

This temple-like monument located on a promontory along Riverside Drive at West 89th Street commemorates Union Army soldiers and sailors who served in the Civil War. An elegant example of the City Beautiful movement, it was designed by the Stoughton brothers, engineer Charles W. (1860–1944) and architect Arthur A. Stoughton (1867–1955), who won a public competition with a design inspired by Greek antiquity. It was designated a municipal landmark in 1976.

A cylindrical form of white marble with 12 Corinthian columns, it is capped with richly carved ornament of eagles and cartouches. The design was based upon the ancient Choragic monument of Lysicrates (4th c. BC) in Athens, an iconic form used during the Greek Revival in 19th century America. Standing at 100 feet, it is larger in scale than the relic it imitates. The plinths that stand atop the south stair list the New York volunteer regiments that served during the war, as well as the Union generals and the battles they led. The ornament was sculpted by Paul E. Duboy (better known for his work on the Ansonia). Several features were never realized, including a pathway down to the Hudson and a more developed plaza area to the south of the monument.

Commissioned by the State of New York in 1893, the competition was held in 1897 and the first stone was laid in January 1900, with Governor Theodore Roosevelt officiating. On Memorial Day 1902 (then called ‘Decoration Day’), the monument was unveiled following a parade of Civil War veterans up Riverside Drive to the site.

Fifty-ninth Street and Fifth Avenue, which is now the site of the Pulitzer Fountain, was the original location chosen by the sponsors of the memorial. However, city officials raised concerns that prompted the committee to select Riverside Park at 89th Street as the site of the monument.

In 1899, New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the monument, 6 years after the Board of Commissioners was formed, and 34 years after the surrender of the chief Confederate army under Robert E. Lee to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia.

Eventually it was sited along the axis of Riverside Drive, looking south and out toward the Hudson River, a more diminutive companion piece to Grant’s Tomb located two miles north. By the First World War, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument had become part of a promenade of classically-inspired monuments that punctuate the rim of Riverside Drive, set against the naturalistic backdrop of Riverside Park and the river beyond.

In the early 1960’s, the City spent over $1 million in extensive repairs to the monument, including a new roof. Now fifty years later, it awaits funding to repair loosened joints, chipped stone, and the damage generally wrought by time if not vandalism.

A New York City landmark, the monument has become a shrine for all those who have served in later wars as well, and is the site of an annual Memorial Day observance held by the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument Association  a Riverside Park Conservancy user group. A Grassroots Volunteer maintains the plantings in the area surrounding the monument.

For decades the monument was the terminus of the Memorial Day Parade and each year hosts an annual Memorial Day observance.

SOLDIERS' AND SAILORS' MONUMENT LOOKING NORTH FROM THE SOUTH PORTICO

SOLDIERS’ AND SAILORS’ MONUMENT
LOOKING NORTH FROM THE SOUTH PORTICO

WREATHS PLACED AT THE SOLDIERS' AND SAILORS' MONUMENT TODAY MEMORIAL DAY MAY 27  2013

WREATHS PLACED AT THE SOLDIERS’ AND SAILORS’ MONUMENT
TODAY MEMORIAL DAY
MAY 27 2013

MEMORIAL DAY  MAY 27  2013 AT THE SOLDIERS' AND SAILORS' MONUMENT

MEMORIAL DAY
MAY 27 2013 AT THE SOLDIERS’ AND SAILORS’ MONUMENT

 

 

PHOTOS BY:

LEONARD EPSTEIN

 

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