Getting To Know Riverside Park: The Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Monument

Sunday, July 31st, 2011


Last week MyUpperWest mentioned the Firemen’s Memorial as one of the many under-appreciated features of Riverside Park. Since the previous post mentioned the Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Monument (Riverside & 89th), which plays host to New York City’s official Memorial Day ceremonies each year, it seems like an opportune time to delve into more detail.

Per the Riverside Park Fund:

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.

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.

The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument stands 96 feet high, is made of marble and granite, and is patterned after the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens. Its ornamental stone terraces surround a marble cylinder capped by a pyramidal roof and ringed by a colonnade of 12 Corinthian columns. To the south of the monument are two mounted cannons, and to the west, the steps of the terraces offer views of the Hudson River. The monument was dedicated on May 30, 1902 in remembrance of individuals from New York State who fought in the Civil War. 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. A Riverside Park Fund Grassroots Volunteer maintains the plantings in the area surrounding the monument.

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