1. A Monument in Tompkins Square Park Pays Tribute to a Boating Disaster
Tompkins Square Park is home to the Slocum Memorial Fountain, located in the north side of the park. The fountain, which was dedicated in 1906, pays tribute to the General Slocum passenger steamboat disaster that took place on June 15, 1904. Prior to the September 11th attacks, the incident resulted in the greatest death toll in NYC history, claiming the lives of over 1,000 victims – the majority of whom were German immigrant mothers and children. Following the tragic event, a black shroud surrounded Little Germany in the Lower East Side as families began to move out of the neighborhood. To this day, it remains the worst inland-water, peacetime tragedy in U.S history, as noted by NYC Parks.
In honor of the unidentified dead, a monument was erected in 1905 in Middle Village, Queens, where many of the victims are buried. The Slocum Memorial Fountain, created by sculptor Bruno Louis Zimm, was also donated by the Sympathy Society of German Ladies, and installed in Tompkins Square Park. The monument is made of pink Tennessee marble and depicts two children looking to the left. It is fitted with a lionhead spout and an inscription on the side reads the following:
“IN MEMORY OF THOSE WHO LOST THEIR LIVES IN THE DISASTER TO THE STEAMER GENERAL SLOCVM JVNE XV MCMIV”
The inscription on the front reads:
“THEY WERE EARTH’S PVREST CHILDREN, YOVNG AND OLD”