Cultural Sites

Mosaic Benches at Grant’s Tomb

One of Pedro Silva’s mosaic benches

Riverside Park is home to a great many beautiful things, including an imposing building that seems to rise straight out of the ground. The stony Grant’s Tomb, designed by John Duncan and finished in 1892, houses the bodies of President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia.

The tomb’s stoic grey color scheme is broken up by a collection of folk art set up around the monument. In the 1970s, an installation of concrete benches decorated with colorful mosaics began to be constructed around the tomb. During a three-year period, seventeen benches were built by the artist Pedro Silva with the help of hundreds of local children. The installation, entitled “The Rolling Bench,” sparked some controversy when critiques accused it of disrupting the tomb’s severity, but adds a great deal of character and color to this picturesque location.

Life of Christ Tapestries at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is home to a priceless twelve-panel series, created in Rome between 1644 and 1656, called the Barberini Life of Christ tapestries. They were designed by Giovanni Francesco Romanelli and hand-woven by skilled weavers for Pope Urban VIII’s nephew, Francesco Barberini. The series previously hung in the Vatican and in Barberini family palaces before making the trip to America in the late nineteenth century.

The massive, fifteen-foot-tall panels reveal a window into the brilliant hues and fantastic imagery that colored the imaginations of Roman artists. They had been hanging in the cathedral’s main sanctuary for years until an unfortunate fire destroyed two of them and damaged the rest in 2001. Restoration efforts have been continuous since then, and the tapestries’ installation has marked a triumphant return.  They will be view through July 16, 2017, from 8am to 5pm daily.

Read more about the Barberini Life of Christ tapestries here.