Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch

STATUS Designated Individual Landmark

Grand Army Plaza

ARCHITECT: John H. Duncan

DATE: c. 1892

STYLE: Roman Imperial Arch

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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

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