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In 1893 there was a desire for a memorial to the soldiers and sailors of the Civil War. The Soldiers and Sailors Monument Association was formed and it proposed a triumphal arch to be built. The original, proposed, location was Grand Army Plaza on the corner of 59th Street and 5th Avenue (the south east corner of Central Park). This location was opposed by the Federation of Fine Arts saying that at this location the monument would be dwarfed by the growing collection of tall hotels and proposed instead 72nd Street and Riverside Drive. Naval officers also preferred the Riverside location because Grand Army Plaza was not in the sight of water. The designed for the Soldiers and Sailors Monument was changed to a circular temple-like structure and the final location was agreed on at 89th and Riverside Drive. Grand Army Plaza got a statue of General Sherman, and the Triumphal Arch was located at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.
There are three major monuments dedicated to the veterans of the Civil War. The Soldiers and Sailors Monument at 72nd street and Riverside Drive, the Grand Army Plaza (Manhattan) located at the south-east entrance into Central Park, and the Grand Army Plaza (Brooklyn) located at main entrance into Prospect Park.
The idea of a triumphal arch was dismissed at this site and a centopath style monument was chosen.
The marble monument with its pyramidal roof and 12 Corinthian columns, is based on the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens.
Originally the heavily sculptured bronze door at the base was opened to visitors, the interior was completely finished, with white marble walls and a mosaic floor underneath the dome. Sadly the door in now locked.
Twelve Corinthian columns encircle the monument supporting the pyramidal roof.
The massive circular temple-like structure is set on a complex series of plazas connected by terraces and walkways. The terraces display an interesting mosaic pattern of circles and squares.
The northern plaza is a place of quiet solitude.
Bronze plaque and the seal of New York.
The southern plaza has displays of cannons and benches for relaxing. The wood benches are removed during renovation leaving an interesting row of concrete footings.
Across the street from the monument is a very interesting, couple of buildings. The buildings are curved to conform to the curve in Riverside Drive. This building was owned by Elizabeth Clark, the last protestor to the building of the monument. She filed an injunction against the monument, claimed the monument would “interfere with the flow of light and air and obstruct the view’” and that it was “unsightly and inartistic,” she lost her case and work resumed.
The first proposed location of the Triumphal Arch was at Grand Army Plaza (Manhattan). This site was rejected and a gold-leaf sculpture of General William Tecumseh Sherman was place in this plaza. The last major work of distinguished sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
The Arch was originally intended for Grand Army Plaza in Manhattan as a memorial to the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors. It was designed by John H. Duncan who would go on to design Grants Tomb. He proposed a free-standing memorial arch of a classical style.
Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch, Brooklyn’s version of the Arc de Triomphe.
On either side of the arch standing on columned pedestals are two crowded groups of figures. On one side is “Spirit of the Navy” and on the other is “Spirit of the Army.”
Inside the arch is the equestrian relief sculpture of Abraham Lincoln.
Entrance into Prospect Park is flanked by huge individual columns topped by a brass eagle with outstreatched wings, perched on a ball.
The centerpiece of the Plaza is Bailey Fountain.
Sitting in the fountains waters are groupings of mythical figures. Here sits Neptune bathed in the waters spray.