August 24, 2018
Prospect Park Alliance to undertake restoration of historic Soldier and Sailors Memorial Arch and surrounding Berms
BROOKLYN—Mayor Bill de Blasio today joined NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams to announce nearly $9 million in funding for the restoration of Grand Army Plaza, including the historic Soldier and Sailors Memorial Arch and the landscaped berms that frame the plaza. Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit that operates the Park in partnership with the City, will undertake the project, which builds on their work over 30 years to restore Prospect Park, in particular the northeast corner of the park.
“It’s been a great week in Brooklyn talking with residents and listening to their concerns, and there’s no better way to cap off this week than to invest in the borough’s public spaces,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Grand Army Plaza welcomes us o Brooklyn’s most beloved park, and with this funding, we can fully realize the beauty of this monument honoring those who have served.”
“The Soldiers and Sailors arch is an iconic landmark in Brooklyn, and a grand welcome for so many visitors to beautiful Prospect Park,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “The arch and its surroundings are long overdue for repairs, and we are grateful to Mayor de Blasio and Prospect Park Alliance for recognizing the need to restore Grand Army Plaza to its former glory.”
“Grand Army Plaza should live up to the grandeur of its rich history, as a signature destination to millions of people from Brooklyn and beyond. I thank Mayor de Blasio and the Prospect Park Alliance for spearheading a multi-million dollar investment into restoring our historic arch, refreshing the greenery, and replacing the cracked pavement. This project complements the work my administration has undertaken to advance access and equity to every side of Prospect Park, our crown jewel in the County of Kings," said Borough President Eric Adams.
“Grand Army Plaza is the front door of Prospect Park, a welcoming gathering spot for communities on both the east and west sides of the park. The Alliance is incredibly excited to be able to restore this public treasure to its original grandeur,” said Sue Donoghue, President, Prospect Park Alliance. “Our award-winning team of architects and landscape architects has undertaken the restoration of many important Park destinations, from the Carousel to the LeFrak Center at Lakeside, and this work is central to our mission in the park.”
“The city’s provision of funding for the restoration of Grand Army Plaza is great news for the park, for Brooklyn, and for the entire city of New York,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik, Chair of the New York City Council Committee on Parks and Recreation. “I look forward to seeing the project move forward.”
Grand Army Plaza was designed by park creators Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux as the grand formal entrance of Prospect Park at the time of its construction in 1867. In 1889, the Plaza became the site of the Soldiers and Sailors Arch, which was dedicated in 1892 to commemorate those who fought with the Union troops during the Civil War. The arch was designed by John H. Duncan with sculptures by Frederick MacMonnies. On top of the arch is a “Quadriga” of Columbia, who represents the United States, surrounded by two winged Victories who trumpet her arrival. Smaller sculptures mounted on pedestals depict soldiers and sailors. The Arch was landmarked in 1975, when the structure was in severe disrepair, and in 1976 Columbia literally fell from her chariot. The City undertook a restoration of the Arch in 1980.
Nearly 40 years later, the Arch is once again in need of restoration. This $8.9 million capital project will enable the Alliance to replace the Arch's roof, clean and repoint the brick and stone structure, repair the interior iron staircases that lead to the roof, and replace the interior and exterior lighting. The project will also include replanting the landscaped berms that frame the Plaza on its east and west sides, which are sustained by Alliance horticultural crews and volunteers. This includes adding new trees and replacing the existing chain link fence with a low steel panel fence. Additionally, the Alliance will remove the broken bluestone pavement that surrounds the plaza's John F. Kennedy Memorial and the Bailey Fountain with granite pavement.
In addition to the restoration of Grand Army Plaza, Prospect Park Alliance also received $1 million in funding from the Brooklyn delegation of the New York City Council for infrastructure improvements to the park's former Rose Garden in the northeast corner of the Park. This and the restoration of Grand Army Plaza will advance the Alliance's current focus on the northeast corner of the park, which also includes the restoration of the Flatbush Avenue perimeter of the park, through funding from Borough President Eric Adams and New York City Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo; the construction of two new entrances to the park on Flatbush Avenue--the first new entrances to the park since the 1940s--through funding from NYC Parks through its Parks without Borders program; and restoring pathways, benches and lighting in the northeast corner of the park through funding from the mayor.