4. The Soldiers and Sailors Monument was originally meant to be in Grand Army Plaza
At 89th Street and Riverside Drive is the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, a large tower that piques the curiosity of parkgoers. The memorial was built in honor of those who fought in the Civil War. It has an intricate mosaic interior that has for the most part remained hidden to the general public. It was dedicated on Memorial Day 1902, without its planned but never completed battlemented wall and grand staircase descending to a watergate. By the 1950s, the monument deteriorated to the point that a fence was erected to protect the public from falling masonry, but a decade later it was restored.
Yet the monument that many pass by daily on their walks through Riverside Park was originally supposed to be further south. Mayor William Lafayette Strong suggested putting the memorial at Grand Army Plaza at 59th Street and 5th Avenue. The original plan consisted of a 125-foot column capped by a statue of Victory, but that design was replaced by a new 80-foot high monument inspired by the Athenian Chorgaic Monument of Lysicrates. The Riverside Drive viaduct was also heavily considered as the site of the monument. The final location at 89th Street was finalized in 1899, and the memorial was dedicated in 1902.