In 1891, friends of William Tecumseh Sherman and members of New York City’s Chamber of Commerce formed a committee to advocate for a public monument and approached the renowned sculptor Saint-Gaudens about creating it. Originally slated for completion by 1894, the monument was not realized until 1903, due in part to debate over its location. Some of the sites under consideration were the southern end of the Mall in Central Park and Riverside Park near General Grant's Tomb. The southeast corner of the Park was ultimately chosen as the open plaza best accommodated views of the 24-foot-high monument. William Tecumseh Sherman was unveiled in Grand Army Plaza in 1903.
The monument depicts Sherman on his horse, Ontario, led by the allegorical figure of Victory. The model for “Victory” was an African-American woman named Hettie Anderson who worked as a model for many of the era's most prominent painters and sculptors. The figure of Victory is depicted holding a palm frond as she leads Sherman to Union victory. Sherman's horse is trampling a Georgia Pine branch, a symbol of the south.
In September 2015 the Central Park Conservancy completed a major restoration of the northern half of Grand Army Plaza, including a conservation and regilding of the Sherman monument. The project involved cleaning the bronze and applying new gold leaf to the surface of the statue. A protective coating of wax — tinted to emphasize the sculptural detail of the monument—was layered on top. The Conservancy also restored the plaza based on its historic 1916 design, including installing a double row of London plane trees, new benches, lamps, and paving stones.
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Since its creation, women have helped make Central Park a unique and thriving public space.
Tags: History / Self-Guided Tours / Art & Architecture