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Washington Square Arch

Coordinates: 40°43′52″N 73°59′50″W / 40.7312355°N 73.9971028°W / 40.7312355; -73.9971028
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Washington Square Arch
Washington Arch
The south face of the arch
40°43′52″N 73°59′50″W / 40.7312355°N 73.9971028°W / 40.7312355; -73.9971028
LocationWashington Square Park, Manhattan, New York City, United States
DesignerArchitect: Stanford White
Sculptors: Frederick MacMonnies (spandrel panels)
Philip Martiny (keystone eagles)
Hermon A. MacNeil (George Washington as Commander-in Chief
Alexander Stirling Calder (George Washington as President)
BuilderDavid H. King, Jr.
MaterialTuckahoe marble
Width57 ft (17 m)
Height73.5 ft (22.4 m)
Span30 ft (9.1 m)

The Washington Square Arch, officially the Washington Arch,[1] is a marble memorial arch in Washington Square Park, in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, New York City. Designed by architect Stanford White in 1891,[2] it commemorates the centennial of George Washington's 1789 inauguration as President of the United States, and forms the southern terminus of Fifth Avenue.



Washington Arch, constructed of white Tuckahoe marble, was conceived by Stanford White, who adapted the form of a Roman triumphal arch, with a design close to the 1st-century Arch of Titus in Rome. They were monuments which the Roman Republic and later emperors built throughout the empire to celebrate a victory or event. For example, the flying figures in the spandrels on either side of the arch are winged victories. The monument's total height is 77 feet (23 m). The piers stand 30 feet (9.1 m) apart and the arch opening is 47 feet (14 m) high. The iconography of the Arch centers on images of war and peace. On the frieze are 13 large stars and 42 small stars, interspersed with capital "W"s.

The inscription on the attic story reads:

Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God.

— Washington

The north side of the eastern pier bears the sculpture George Washington as Commander-in-Chief, Accompanied by Fame and Valor (1914–1916) by Hermon A. MacNeil; the President is flanked by Fame (left) and Valor (right). The western pier has George Washington as President, Accompanied by Wisdom and Justice (1917–18) by Alexander Stirling Calder (father of Alexander Calder), with flanking Justice (right) and Wisdom (left) figures.[3] In the latter sculpture, a hand holds a book bearing the Latin phrase Exitus Acta Probat ("the end justifies the deed"). These sculptures are commonly referred to as Washington at War and Washington at Peace, respectively. These figures and most of the rest of the carving on the arch was performed by the Piccirilli Brothers.[4]

Upon the last stone is carved a huge "P" in honor of Ignacy Jan Paderewski, the famous Polish pianist and 3rd Prime Minister of Poland, who donated $4,500 collected from one of his concerts in New York.[2]



In 1889, a large plaster and wood memorial arch was erected over Fifth Avenue just north of Washington Square Park by local businessman and philanthropist William Rhinelander Stewart (1852–1929). Stewart lived at 17 Washington Square North, and his friends contributed $2,765 toward the work. Freemasons from St. John's Lodge No. 1 lead a procession through the arch with the George Washington Inaugural Bible for the Centennial Parade of Washington's Inauguration in 1889.[5] The temporary arch was so popular that more money was raised and, three years later, the permanent stone arch, designed by architect Stanford White, was erected.[6]

During the excavations for the eastern pier, human remains, a coffin, and a gravestone dated 1803 were uncovered 10 feet (3.0 m) below ground level.[7] At the laying of the cornerstone, Freemasons from St. John's Lodge No. 1 were again present with the George Washington Inaugural Bible.[8] The Arch was dedicated in 1895. In 1918, two statues of Washington were added to the north side.

By the late 20th century, the Washington Arch had become extensively defaced with spray-painted graffiti. It was cleaned and restored in 2003–04.[1] In modern times, the Washington Square Arch has become an unofficial symbol of New York University.[9]


See also



  1. ^ a b Gardner, Ralph Jr. (March 8, 2011). "Inside the Washington Arch". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on June 25, 2022. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "The Monumental News" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on June 19, 2021. Retrieved December 1, 2023.
  3. ^ Washington as President Archived November 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine from museumplanet.
  4. ^ Reynolds, Donald Martin, Monuments and Masterpieces: Histories and Views of Public Sculpture in New York City, New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1988, pp. 359–361
  5. ^ Callias, Manny (March 11, 2017). "Dedication of the Washington Arch in NYC". SJ1 Foundation. Archived from the original on April 28, 2024. Retrieved April 28, 2024.
  6. ^ Buescher, John. "Architectural Homage Archived June 1, 2012, at the Wayback Machine." Teachinghistory.org Archived November 28, 2017, at the Wayback Machine. Accessed July 12, 2011.
  7. ^ Geismar, Joan H. (August 2005). "Washington Square Park: Phase 1A Archaeological Assessment" (PDF). New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. p. 24 (PDF p. 30). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 3, 2007. Retrieved October 1, 2007.
  8. ^ "The George Washington Inaugural Bible". SJ1 Foundation. Archived from the original on April 8, 2024. Retrieved April 28, 2024.
  9. ^ "NYU History Lesson: The Washington Square Arch". NYULocal. November 16, 2016. Archived from the original on October 8, 2023. Retrieved January 30, 2021.