Friday, May 22, 2015

Celebrating Memorial Day The Upper West Side Way: At The Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Monument

Prominently situated on Riverside Drive at 89th Street, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument was erected in memory of the New York regiments that fought in the Civil War. Designed by Charles and Arthur Stoughton and Paul E.M. Duboy, the monument was built between 1900-1902 after a long series of delays, which involved funding, siting, and design changes. The brothers formed the firm Stoughton & Stoughton in 1894; amongst its respected works is the landmarked 52nd Police Precinct Station House in the Bronx. Duboy was a French architect best known for his work on the Ansonia Hotel. The three collaborated to design the Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Monument and the cornerstone was laid on December 15, 1900, with Governor Theodore Roosevelt officiating. Construction was completed in 1902, and the Monument was unveiled on May 30, Decoration (Memorial) Day, following a parade by Civil War veterans up Riverside Drive to the site.  

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument is a simple and dignified white marble structure, based on the Hellenistic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens, although built on a much larger scale. Set off above a series of balustraded terraces, it rises to a height of about 100 feet. A colonnade consisting of twelve Corinthian columns, 36 feet high, rises above a high-rusticated marble base. The colonnade carries an entablature adored with a full frieze containing the inscription: “To the memory of the Brave Soldiers and Sailors who Saved the Union.” The lowest course of rustication is adorned with a handsome wave molding incorporating laurel and oak leaves, while a cornice with closely spaced medallions surmounts the base. A single entrance set in the base has a marble enframement adorned by a laurel-lead molding and crowned by a cornice supporting an eagle. The inscription “In Memoriam” appears above this doorway which contains a handsome bronze door. Adapted from the Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report [Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Monument, 1976]. Read the full text.

The Monument, which once served as the terminus of the Memorial Day Parade, will have its annual Memorial Day observance Tuesday, May 26 starting at 10:00AM. This year is particularly significant as it is also the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. For more information, click here.

The interior, pictured below, is rarely open to the public. It was recently featured in the Building Blocks Section of the New York Times“Interior of Soldiers and Sailors’ Monument Remains a Hidden Jewel,” David Dunlap. May 20, 2015. 

Above: The great dome is ornamented with green mosaic palm fronds and topped by an oculus through which one can see a cupola of polished marble that sparkles like a celestial, faceted jewel. Credit Bryan Thomas for The New York Times

The monument was designated a Scenic Landmark in 1976 and was among the first Landmarks designated on the Upper West Side following the passage of the 1965 Landmarks Law. 

Visit this site here.
The Soldiers’ & Sailors’ site is one of the landmarks featured on Landmark West!’s Google Field TripApp, which provides history about various sites (both designated landmarks and those LW! wishes will be)on the Upper West Side. Download the APP to your Smartphone and enjoy!

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