9. General Grant National Memorial

General Grant Memorial, one of NYC's most beautiful Beaux-Arts buildings

General Ulysses S. Grant emerged as the hero of the Civil War and the president who restored peace to a fractured country. Though it’s hard to imagine a presidential monument being erected on a similar scale now, in the years following the Civil War, Grant enjoyed a popularity on par with Lincoln and Washington. In fact, his tomb was privately funded, with almost 100,000 Americans donating the equivalent of $18 million in today’s dollars.

Following two separate competitions, John H. Duncan was awarded the commission to design the tomb. He devised an elaborate plan based on Napoleon’s tomb at Hôtel des Invalides in Paris with elements from the tombs of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and King Mausolus at Halicarnassus thrown in. Due to budget constraints, most of the sculptural elements he envisioned were cut from the plans, but the result was nonetheless one of the city’s most beautiful Beaux-Arts buildings. Grant’s tomb sits below a massive dome with allegorical figures poised in the spaces between the arches. Additional decorative elements were added by John Russell Pope in 1929.