FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 30, 2004
MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG CUTS RIBBON ON NEWLY RESTORED WASHINGTON SQUARE ARCH
City Celebrates Completion of $2.7 Million Conservation of the 109-year-old Monument
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today joined Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, Council Member Alan J. Gerson, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, New York University (NYU) President John Sexton, Community Board 2 Chair Jim Smith and others to rededicate Washington Square Arch after an extensive restoration. The one-year, $2.7 million project restored the Arch to its original condition and included repairing both statues of George Washington. Among those also in attendance were Samuel G. White (great-grandson of the Arch’s architect Stanford White), first graders from P.S. 41 and members of the 319th AG Army Band from Fort Totten, Queens.
“The restoration of the Washington Square Arch represents the culmination of more than a decade of effort by the City, New York University, and concerned citizens to reverse the effects of decades of neglect,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “For more than one hundred years, the Arch has stood as a defining symbol of New York City, and has now been restored to its original grandeur. With recent improvements to the park and over $2 million in City funds committed to further improvements, Washington Square Park itself is experiencing a rebirth from what it was ten years ago. Today’s re-dedication affirms New York City’s commitment to the renewal of Washington Square Park to a beautiful and safe public space for all New Yorkers to enjoy.”
Allocations for the $2.7 million project included $1.3 million by the Mayor, $1.2 million by City Council, and $200,000 by the Borough President. Additionally, NYU has pledged $300,000 towards a $600,000 endowment fund being raised by the City for the continued maintenance of the Arch. Money towards the endowment has come from a variety of donors including $50,000 from private supporter Daid Netto and $50,000 from an anonymous donor. A $10,000 donation from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation also allowed Parks & Recreation to convene a panel of international experts in the fields of historic preservation and monument conservation during the project’s design phase.
“The Washington Square Arch was built to be a triumphal affirmation of the ideals of a young republic,” said Commissioner Benepe. “One hundred and nine years later, the City is preserving these ideals in its restoration of the Arch. Thanks to the continued support of N.Y.U. and the Greenwich Village community, both the Washington Square Arch and Washington Square Park will remain iconic New York City landmarks for generations to come.”
“The Parks Department has done a wonderful job restoring the Washington Square Arch; they are great partners in sustaining the uniqueness of this community,” said John Sexton. “From its conception, New York University has been a university not only in but of the city. I believe it is appropriate that as citizens of this community, we step forward with the first major gift, helping to restore a park that gives so much sustenance to the people of NYU. That is why NYU is very pleased to pledge $1 million towards the future renovation of Washington Square Park, in addition to the ongoing funds we are providing for the maintenance of the arch and the park.”
Mayor Bloomberg today also announced an additional allocation of $1 million in Mayoral funds for the capital reconstruction of Washington Square Park. In addition to the $300,000 contribution to the Arch endowment, NYU President John Sexton also today committed $1 million in funding from the University towards the park's capital improvements. Additionally, there is $1.2 million in funding allocated by City Council Members Gerson and Margarita Lopez for upcoming projects. Future parks projects will include restoring pedestrian paths and paving, adding new plantings and making other horticultural improvements, restoring the fountain, and more.
The restoration of the Arch addressed widespread deterioration from environmental weathering, pollutants, water seepage, roosting birds and vandalism. In addition to repairs of both statues of Washington, the restoration included securing loose pieces, recarving select sculptural and decorative features, micro-abrasive cleaning and chemical stone consolidation of marble masonry and ornament, mortar repointing, replacement of the roof, repairs to the interior walls and stairway, and installation of a bird-proofing system. The restoration concluded with the installation of extensive architectural lighting.
The contractor for the project was Mughal Waterproofing and Masonry, and the subcontractor for the delicate masonry work was Archa Technology, Ltd. The design consultant conservation team includes Koutsomitis Architects, P.C., conservators Mark Rabinowitz and Robin Gerstad, and engineers Robert Silman Associates. Lighting was designed by Domingo Gonzalez Associates.
The Arch, designed by architect Stanford White, was dedicated in 1895 as an expression of the City Beautiful movement, which sought to create structures and public spaces in America whose beauty and stature would rival those of the European capitals. It was preceded in 1889 by a temporary triumphal arch of wood and papier mache, also designed by Stanford White, which honored the centennial anniversary of Washington’s inauguration. The temporary arch was so well received that plans were immediately made to erect a permanent structure, and funds were quickly raised by private subscription.
David H. King, who constructed the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, was hired as a builder. Most of the ornamentation on the Arch, including the spandrel panels was designed by William MacMonnies, and crafted by the Piccirilli studio, a shop of Italian master carvers based in the South Bronx. Construction began on May 30, 1890 and was completed by February 1895. Washington as Commander-in-Chief, Accompanied by Fame and Valor was designed by Hermon Atkins MacNeil and was installed in 1916. Washington as President, Accompanied by Wisdom and Justice, was designed Alexander Stirling Calder and was installed in 1918.
Edward Skyler/Robert Lawson (212) 788-2958
Megan Sheekey (212) 360-1311