8. The Two Sculptures of George Washington Were Added Much Later

Statues of George Washington on the east and west sections of the arch, respectively.

On the north side of the arch facing 5th Avenue are two statues of George Washington. On the east side stands Washington as Commander-in-Chief, Accompanied by Fame and Valor, or Washington at War, commemorating his time as general of the Colonial Army in the War of Independence. It was completed in 1916 by Hermon MacNeil. The statue on the west side of the arch was completed by Alexander Stirling Calder in 1918. It is called Washington as President, Accompanied by Wisdom and Justice (or Washington at Peace) denoting his time as the first president of the United States.

These two statues were added to the arch in their respective years of completion. Basically, they were not a part of the original arch of 1889, nor were they there when the permanent marble one was dedicated on May 4, 1895. Sadly, both the faces of statues suffered from a lot of erosion since cars became heavily used in the city. But following a full restoration and conservation of the arch campaign in 2002, the faces of Washington were re-carved and whole arch was rededicated on April 30, 2004.

The last car driven through the arch was in 1958 after the park officially became closed to cars after much campaigning.

See more on cars in the city, check out 10 Forgotten Examples of NYC’s Old Car-Centric History.