The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch, dedicated to the men who fought in the Union forces during the Civil War, is located on the southern side of the oval in the Grand Army Plaza. John Hemingway Duncan, who later was the architect of Grant’s Tomb on Riverside Drive, won the one thousand dollar prize for the design of the arch, and Bernard Gallagher received the contract to build it. Construction began in August of 1889, and the cornerstone was ceremoniously laid by General William Tecumseh Sherman on October 30, 1889.
The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch is reminiscent of the Arch of Titus in Rome, and it is made of light colored granite with a base-course of dark, polished granite. The leading sculptors of the day were commissioned by Brooklyn’s Park Commission to decorate the Arch. Frederick William MacMonnies, a native of Brooklyn who had studied under Augustus Saint-Gaudens, was the sculptor of the heroic groups of soldiers and sailors mounted on the pedestals on the south side of the memorial and of the magnificent triumphal quadriga atop the monument.
The bas-reliefs on either side, beneath the arch, were carried out by Thomas Eakins and William R. O’Donovan in 1893-1894. Eakins, who is better known as one of the leading painters of 19th century America, designed the horses on which O’Donovan’s figures of Lincoln and Grant are mounted. The ornamental sculpture in the spandrel panels on the south side of the monutlent were done by Philip Martiny.
STATUS Designated Individual Landmark
“I don’t know what the City would be without HDC. [They] testified before LPC time after time and helped us focus on the right issues. We would not be an historic district without HDC! ”
Doreen Gallo: DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance
“Use HDC as a resource because they know what they are doing and can offer advice on how to go about creating a district from every front: architectural, political, LPC, and the media. I had floundered prior to my involvement with this invaluable organization.”
Fern Luskin: Lamartine Place Historic District; Friends of Lamartine Place & Gibbons Underground Railroad Site
“HDC provided guidance and shared information during that process—we knew which Council members were going one way or another and we changed a few minds. I don’t think NoHo would have had as cohesive a district had it not been for HDC’s aid.”
Zella Jones: NoHo Historic District; NoHo East; and NoHo Extension
“I remember Richard saying at a meeting, we have someone here from HDC, Nadezhda Williams, Director of Preservation and Research, to help us. She said to us, ‘You are not the only ones going through this.’ HDC included us in an enormous community”
Erika Petersen: West End Preservation Society