The Mayor’s Office of the City of New York has released its preliminary 2024 budget, which includes $62.3 million in funding for the restoration of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument and Plaza in Riverside Park.
This huge milestone comes after years of advocacy from Riverside Park Conservancy, elected officials and the public. Among the project’s most active champions has been Council Member Gale Brewer, who launched a petition to save the monument last year that garnered thousands of signatures.
Located at 89th Street and Riverside Drive, the 20,000-square-foot, white marble monument commemorates the 370,000 servicemembers from New York who fought on behalf of the Union in the Civil War.
Dedicated in May, 1902, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument was created by sculptor artist Paul e. Duboy with architect Charles & Arthur Stoughton.
A 2017 survey commissioned by the NYC Parks Department found the structure to be in a near-catastrophic state of decay and identified an urgent need to stabilize the surrounding hillside, embankments, and ceremonial plaza comprising nearly two acres of Riverside Park.
A unique piece of history and one of only five monuments in the New York City Parks System with landmark status, the proposed restoration project has significant support from numerous City officials including Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue, and Deputy Mayor of Operations Meera Joshi.
“Investing in the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument is deeply meaningful to New Yorkers, and we are thrilled that Mayor Adams has made this commitment to its full restoration,” said Merritt Birnbaum, President & CEO of Riverside Park Conservancy. “As both a place of remembrance and an homage to those who continue to serve our country, the memorial is not just a piece of history, it is a unique contributor to the active life and character of our Park – and a treasure for our entire City.”
Work started on the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument and Plaza in 1900, and the structure was completed and unveiled to the public in 1902. Then-president Theodore Roosevelt officiated at the dedication ceremony. With an enduring message that continues to resonate today, during the ceremony, orator General Albert Shaw commented that it was not a “memorial of conquest, but signifies the Nation’s appreciation of the victors who saved it in the supreme crisis of fate.”
“This is a historic moment for this historic monument, which was last restored in 1962, and has fallen into grave disrepair in the decades since,” said Micah Lasher, Chair of Riverside Park Conservancy’s Board of Trustees. “The countless New Yorkers for whom the Soldiers and Sailors Monument has been a place to remember, recreate, and repose are incredibly grateful to Mayor Adams, Commissioner Donoghue, and their teams for recognizing the need so quickly upon taking office and acting on it.”
“We are grateful to the City and its leadership for preserving this monument completed more than 120 years ago to memorialize the Union soldiers and sailors who bravely served in the Civil War,” said USN Commander Peter Galasinao (ret), President of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Association of Riverside Park Conservancy. “Over the decades, this community has expanded to memorialize all men and women who have served our country and who have paid with their lives. We will never forget their and their families’ sacrifice. It is befitting that this monument stands to help us carry on the tradition and to remember those no longer with us.”
The Soldiers and Sailors Monument is located on Riverside Drive and West 89th Street in Riverside Park.
The inscription on the plaque reads: “Erected by the City of New York to Commemorate the Valor of the Soldiers and Sailors who in the Civil War fought in the Defense of the Union.”
From 59th Street to 181st Street, from riverfront to city-side, Riverside Park Conservancy cares for and enhances six miles of parkland for present and future generations. Working together with the New York City Parks Department, we make improvements as diverse as the park itself and the city it serves.
Riverside Park Conservancy honored The Firemen’s Memorial on its 20th Anniversary inn 2001 by securing funds for its restoration.
Read more about what’s going on in Riverside Park, from Bees to Goats.