Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch

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Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch
Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument
Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch.jpg
The triumphal arch at the south end of the traffic oval (foreground). To the left and right of the memorial are additional streets (not shown).
TypeAmerican Civil War memorial
LocationGrand Army Plaza
Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.
Coordinates40°40′22″N 73°58′11″W / 40.6729°N 73.9698°W / 40.6729; -73.9698Coordinates: 40°40′22″N 73°58′11″W / 40.6729°N 73.9698°W / 40.6729; -73.9698
Elevation135 feet (41 m)
Height80 feet (24 m)
DedicatedOctober 21, 1892 (1892-10-21)
Built1889 (1889)–1892 (1892)
Built for"To the Defenders of the Union, 1861–1865"
Rebuilt1898 (statues added)
ArchitectJohn H. Duncan
SculptorFrederick MacMonnies and Philip Martiny
OwnerCity of New York
DesignatedOctober 16, 1973 (1973-10-16)
Reference no.LP-0821[1]
Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch is located in New York City
Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch
Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch location in Brooklyn

The Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch is a triumphal arch at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, New York City, just north of Prospect Park. Built from 1889 to 1892, the arch is dedicated "To the Defenders of the Union, 1861–1865".[2][3]

The eastern end with a stairway to the observation deck and crowning sculpture was occasionally open to the public until the early 2000s, when deterioration of the interior made it unsafe for the public.


Arch in 1894 without sculptures.
Lincoln and Grant
Crowning sculpture

On August 6, 1889, William R. Ware and Charles B. Atwood, who had been appointed by the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument Commission, selected John H. Duncan's design for the arch from 36 designs submitted the previous year.[4]

Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, in collaboration with architect Stanford White, built the arch after 2+12 months of site preparation; William Tecumseh Sherman was the speaker at the 1889 cornerstone, and President Grover Cleveland led the 1892 unveiling.[5]

The McKim, Mead and White firm recommended the bronze statues for the City Beautiful movement, and Park Commissioner Frank Squire engaged Frederick MacMonnies in 1894 to design the three bronze sculptural groupings. The interior arch faces have equestrian bas-reliefs of Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant sculpted by William Rudolf O'Donovan (men) and Thomas Eakins (horses), that were added in 1895.[5]: 723  Also added in 1895 by sculptor Frederick MacMonnies[6] are the Army and Navy sculptures and the allegorical crowning sculpture. This sculpture depicts the winged goddess of victory, following victorious combat (the Civil War) with instruments of war: sword, colors, flagstaff, and quadriga (the Union Army). Winged attendants are seen removing two of the four quadriga horses for peacetime use (postbellum recovery) while trumpeting the victory and freedom (Emancipation).

The arch was designated a landmark in 1973,[7] and the crowning sculpture was restored after the chariot's figure fell out in 1976. The occasionally publicly accessible observation deck at the top of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch was closed in the 2000s because the deck had severely degraded. In 2018, it was announced that as part of a renovation of Grand Army Plaza, the arch's observation deck would be restored and reopened.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Arch, October 1973" (PDF). Neighborhood Preservation Center. Landmarks Preservation Commission. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  2. ^ Miller, Richard E (November 13, 2008). "Defenders of the Union" ( webpage, marker 13548). Retrieved 2011-08-01.
  3. ^ "Grand Army Plaza Highlights : NYC Parks". New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. June 26, 1939. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  4. ^ The three-person Commission consisted of Brooklyn Mayor Alfred C. Chapin, Aldermanic President McCarty, and Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Committee Chairman James D. Bell"Lucky Man: A New Yorker Gets the Soldier's Monument Work". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 1889-08-06. pp. Page 4, Column 2. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-01-09.
  5. ^ a b White, Norval; Willensky, Elliot (2000). AIA Guide to New York City (4th ed.). New York Chapter, American Institute of Architects; Crown Publishers/Random House. ISBN 0-8129-3106-8. Inside the arch itself is more subtle work, bas-reliefs of Lincoln (Thomas Eakins) and Grant (William O' Donovan), both installed in 1895.: 668 
  6. ^ (December 4, 1898). "Quadriga in its Place" The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Archived 2008-09-07 at the Wayback Machine Page 31
  7. ^ "Grand Army Plaza". Archived from the original on 2011-07-12. Retrieved 2011-08-04.
  8. ^ Gleason, Will (August 27, 2018). "The long-closed observation deck at Grand Army Plaza is set to reopen to the public". Time Out New York. Retrieved August 30, 2018.

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