The Arch of Victory, once spanning Broadway at 25th Street. Image via: U.S. Library of Congress
This article is by Kevin C. Fitzpatrick, the author of World War I New York: A Guide to the City’s Enduring Ties to the Great War (Globe Pequot Press), a guidebook to more than 150 locations in the five boroughs with links to “the War to End All Wars.”
With the centennial of American entrance into World War I on April 6, 2017, it’s a good time to recall the many traces of the war that remain in New York today. The city served as a vital embarkation and debarkation point, and it’s role as a supply base and financial center were critical to the war effort. One in ten Doughboys were from New York, and thousands of volunteers, men and women, were from the region.
Today there are reminders of the Great War all around us:
10. Central Park
Captured German submarine placed in Central Park for war bond fundraising 1917. Image via: U.S. Library of Congress
A variety of uses were found for Central Park during the war years. Before America declared war on Germany, recruits and soldiers drilled on its fields. Central Park was also perfect for publicity and fundraising stunts.
The Second Liberty Loan parade, held on October 25, 1917, featured a German piece of war: a real U-boat. A Royal Navy destroyer near the Heligoland archipelago in the North Sea captured the UC-5, a minelayer submarine. It was dismantled and cut into three massive pieces and shipped to New York. Teams of forty horses pulled each piece of the U-boat across the city and to the Sheep Meadow, where it was renamed U-Buy-a-Bond. It was open to the public to tour by purchasing bonds.