The Progress of Railroading

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Columbus Fountain
The Progress of Railroading by Louis Saint-Gaudens (1908) A.jpg
Artist Louis Saint-Gaudens
Year 1908 (1908)
Type Granite
Dimensions 18 ft (5.5 m) each for 6 figures
Location Washington, D.C., United States
Coordinates 38°53′49.3″N 77°0′23.17″W / 38.897028°N 77.0064361°W / 38.897028; -77.0064361
Owner Union Station

The Progress of Railroading is group of public artworks by American artist Louis St. Gaudens. This series of six sculptures were cut by Andrew E. Bernasconi, a high-grade Italian stone workman, between 1909 and 1911. These statues are located at Union Station in Washington, D.C., United States. The sculptures represent deities related to rail transport in the United States.[1]

Description[edit]

Six figures which stand at 18 feet high are on the main facade of the Union Station building. These granite sculptures are placed above three connected triumphal arches that make up the main entrance of the building. The six figures represent and mean:

The east and west figures are meant to deal with the operational system behind railroads and the center figures represent creativity.[1]

The west section is inscribed:

FIRE - GREATEST OF DISCOVERIES
ENABLING MAN TO LIVE IN VARIOUS CLIMATES
USE MANY FOODS - AND COMPEL THE
FORCES OF NATURE TO DO HIS WORK
ELECTRICITY - CARRIER OF LIGHT AND POWER
DEVOURER OF TIME AND SPACE - BEARER
OF HUMAN SPEECH OVER LAND AND SEA
GREATEST SERVANT OF MAN - ITSELF UNKNOWN
THOU HAST PUT ALL THINGS UNDER HIS FEET

The center is inscribed:

SWEETENER OF HUT AND OF HALL
BRINGER OF LIFE OUT OF NAUGHT
FREEDOM O FAIREST OF ALL
THE DAUGHTERS OF TIME AND THOUGHT
MAN'S IMAGINATION HAS CONCEIVED ALL
NUMBERS AND LETTERS ALL TOOLS VESSELS
AND SHELTERS - EVERY ART AND TRADE ALL
PHILOSOPHY AND POETRY - AND ALL POLITIES
THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE

The east side is inscribed:

THE FARM - BEST HOME OF THE FAMILY - MAIN
SOURCE OF NATIONAL WEALTH - FOUNDATION OF
CIVILIZED SOCIETY - THE NATURAL PROVIDENCE
THE OLD MECHANIC ARTS CONTROLLING NEW
FORCES BUILD NEW HIGHWAYS FOR GOODS
AND MEN OVERRIDE THE OCEAN AND MAKE
THE VERY ETHER CARRY HUMAN THOUGHT
THE DESERT SHALL REJOICE AND BLOSSOM
AS THE ROSE

Two eagles also flank the left and right side of the arches.[1]

Creation process[edit]

When the Station was being constructed debate erupted regarding "who" the figures would be or represent. Historical American figures were considered, however, they did not fit into the Baroque architecture of the building, therefore allegorical figures were chosen. Many people were consulted regarding what figures to have St. Gaudens sculpt including Charles W. Eliot, the former president of Harvard University.[1]

Condition[edit]

The Progress of Railroading sculptures were surveyed in 1994 by the Smithsonian's Save Outdoor Sculpture! program and was described as needing treatment.[2]

Gallery[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Wasserman, James. The Secrets of Masonic Washington: A Guidebook to Signs, Symbols, and Ceremonies at the Origin of America's Capital. Destiny Books, 2008. ISBN 1-59477-266-5

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Goode, John Washington Sculpture. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008, p. 15.
  2. ^ Smithsonian (1994). "The Progress of Railroading, (sculpture).". Save Outdoor Sculpture. Smithsonian. Retrieved 14 Feb 2011. 

External links[edit]