The Polish sculptor Stanislaw Ostrowski created the monument for the Polish pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair in Queens. The monument depicts a scene from the 1410 Battle of Grunwald when the king received two swords from his adversaries, the Teutonic Knights of the Cross. He raises the crossed swords above his head as he stands in the stirrups of his battle horse. Ostrowski modeled the monument after a statue in Warsaw but added the dramatically raised swords. Just six months after the pavilion opened, in September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland destroying all symbols of Polish nationalism including the original statue of the King.
When the Fair closed in 1940, the contents of the Polish pavilion were unable to return home because of the Nazi occupation. Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, who was also involved with planning for the Fair, and Mayor LaGuardia worked with a committee of Polish organizations to find a home for the King Jagiello monument in New York. On July 15, 1945, the 535th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald and two months after V-E Day, the monument was unveiled in Central Park.
King Jagiello is one of several equestrian monuments in the Park. Others include the William Tecumseh Sherman monument and the monuments to the Latin American heroes Jose Marti, Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín.
Things you can do here
Explore the middle of Central Park with stops at the Park’s miniature castle, a popular turtle hangout, and the oldest outdoor monument in New York City.
Tags: History / Art & Architecture