1. The Saga of the Statue of Lafayette and Washington in Morningside Park

Morningside Park-bartholdi washington and lafayette statue-NYC

A bronze statue of Lafayette and Washington, a replica of one made by Frederick Bartholdi who designed the Statue of Liberty, stands in Lafayette Square in Morningside Park. The original was commissioned by Joseph Pulitzer, head of the New York World newspaper, whose main office was the tallest building in the world at the time. Pulitzer was excited about the work of art that would commemorate Franco-American relations but the New York Times criticized the work excessively, apparently for the incorrect height of Washington. They wrote:

A more serious objection to the group is the mistake M. Bartholdi has made in the relative size of the two heroes of the Revolution. Washington was a man of exceptional height, that majesty of deportment which every one who saw him noted as a chief characteristic was not merely the result of his large and commanding mind, but was reinforced by the bigness of his physical make-up. Americans are good-humored, but they will not care to allow even so notable a sculptor as M. Bartholdi an artist’s license in this respect, because it violates too obviously the actual facts.”

So instead, Pulitzer gave the statue to the city of Paris in 1895 where it stands in a park on Rue des Etas Unis. Meanwhile, the New York City merchant Charles Broadway Rouss purchased a replica of the Bartholdi statue and donated it to the City of New York. In 1900, it was unveiled in Morningside Park at Lafayette Square. At that point, The New York Times decided to be conciliatory, writing “The group has been erected in a position which displays it in a more conspicuous manner than the majority of the public statues of the city.”

Next, discover the Top 10 Secrets of Central Park and 15 Secrets of Columbia University.