Over the past two years, Zion Triangle Plaza has undergone an extensive renovation and expansion. The odd-shaped plot of land bounded by Pitkin, New York and Legion Avenues in Brooklyn sits next to the historic Loew’s Pitkin Avenue Theater. The massive renovation project included adding new amenities and restoring of the Zion Park War Memorial, also known as the Brownsville War Memorial. The restoration of the Zion Park War Memorial is nominated for a Best of New York Award 2020! You can see all the nominees, picked by a panel of urban experts, and cast your vote here!

Zion Triangle Park in BrooklynPhotograph Courtesy of the New York City Department of Design and Construction

The idea to put a war memorial in the park came from Alexander S. Drescher, chairman of the Citizens Memorial Committee and the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Committees of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Sculptor Charles Cary Rumsey was commissioned to craft three reliefs for the memorial: two side reliefs of a soldier and a sailor, and one central relief of a winged figure of victory. Rumsey’s other notable piece of art work in New York City is a 1916 relief called “Buffalo Hunt” that appears Carrère and Hastings’ entrance to the Manhattan Bridge. Architect Henry Beaumont designed the limestone stele and side pylons of the monument.

Sadly, Rumsey would not live to see the project completed. He was killed in a car crash in 1922, shortly after he made a preliminary plaster and limestone version of the victory relief. His primary studio assistant, Edmondo Quattrochi, finished the job. The monument was dedicated on November 1, 1925.

Zion Park War Memorial in BrooklynPhotograph Courtesy of the New York City Department of Design and Construction

Standing thirteen feet tall and twenty feet wide, the monument features a central relief carving of a sword-bearing winged victory figure flanked by the inscribed names of local servicemen killed in World War I. The reliefs of the soldier and sailor were never made. Over the years, the monument was subject to vandalism, and efforts to cover up the vandalism. In the 1990s, the monument was painted white to cover up graffiti.

A. Ottavino Corp. of Brooklyn, the firm in charge of the monument’s latest restoration, thoroughly reviewed the statue and noted all pieces that needed to be fixed, cleaned, or replaced. Overall, the firm noted that in 2018 the monument was in “fair” condition, but there was a lot of work to be done. The report laid out the plan to remove “remains of prior painting campaigns, areas of biologic growth and overall surface erosion.” The restoration team also replaced small missing pieces and filled in cracks. The most drastic damage was on the landing and steps leading up to the monument. The original landing and steps had to be replaced. Indiana limestone, which matched the original materials, was used.

Zion Park War Memorial in the expanded parkPhotograph Courtesy of the New York City Department of Design and Construction

The $600,000 monument restoration was part of an expansion of the Zion Triangle. An additional 5,000+ square feet were added to the plaza by permanently closing Legion Street between Pitkin and East New York Avenues and taking over one lane of traffic on East New York Avenue. New sidewalks were installed as well as eight new ADA-compliant pedestrian ramps.

The park was also outfitted with amphitheater-style seating so it can serve as a venue for outdoor performances. Hundreds of new plants and dozens of trees were planted in the park to beautify the land around new paved paths and benches. The completion of the expansion and monument restoration were celebrated at a ribbon cutting ceremony in November, 95 years after the monument was originally dedicated.

Back of the Zion Park War MemorialPhotograph Courtesy of the New York City Department of Design and Construction

The Brownsville War Memorial restoration was nominated by a panel of urban experts for a Best of New York Award in the category of Best Restoration! You can see all of the categories and nominees and cast your vote here! Five randomly selected voters will win a free autographed copy of Secret Brooklyn! Voting is open through December 31st at 11:59 PM. Winners will be announced on January 4th.

Next, check out Photos: The Stunningly Restored Surrogate’s Courthouse Skylight and 10 Maritime Memorials in NYC