Monday, October 23, 2006

Soldiers and Sailors Monument, NYC

I've always been a little obsessed with this monument. It's the Soldiers and Sailors Monument honoring those who served in the Civil War defending the Union. I'm not sure why I find it so fascinating. I guess there's something sort of incongruous about a big ol' Civil War monument in the middle of New York City. Another thing I like about it is its unapologetic Victorian grandiosity. Technically it's Neo-Classical in style but with a typically grand Victorian take. It also happens to be at 89th and Riverside, just six blocks from my house. Most of all though, it does what it's supposed to do: memorialize. I can't round that particular bend of Riverside Drive without thinking about the Civil War when this gleaming monument comes into view.

I recently learned that President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone for the monument in December of 1900. It struck me how like Roosevelt this monument is--bold and unapologetic. Indeed, he left his larger than life legacy all over my neighborhood, most notably, the Museum of Natural History and Theodore Roosevelt Park which features a huge (flattering) statue of him astride a horse facing Central Park with the dates of his birth and death on it. 1858 to 1919.

What I'm getting at here is how we memorialize and mourn is very much indicative of the time in which we live. I say this during a week when human remains are still being found in Lower Manhattan as a result of the September 11th attacks. I'm reminded of the ongoing debate between the families of the victims, the city and the architects over just how to memorialize these people. Whether it should be reflecting pools, beams of light, a park, or a subterranean museum of sorts. Whatever they do, I hope they take a chapter from Teddy Roosevelt's book and make it bold. The minute I see that monument I want to remember those 3000 people. I don't want it disguised in some park-like setting or have to take an elevator below the street to see it either. It should be out there, proud and unapologetic, just like the towers were to begin with.

For more information and historical photos of the Soliders and Sailors Monument go to:

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At 4:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sincerely hope, too, that the monument reflects the people who lost their lives there rather than the commerce that suffered a momentary blip on that day. It should be something as astonishing as the Vietnam War Memorial.

On a lighter note, I can cetainly understand your obsession with the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. I mean, just look at that thing standing there, so erect and stout and proud.

Yeh, baby.


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