Field Trip Friday: Memorial Arch at Grand Army Plaza

Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza has a myriad of distinguishable monuments, fountains and architecture. Recently, OHNY intern Kathleen took a closer look at the intricate design of the Memorial Arch.

Looking towards the park

The Memorial Arch commemorates the defenders of the Union and was the original gateway to Prospect Park.  Designed by John H. Duncan in 1889—the same man who designed Grant’s tomb–the classical style nods to Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, while the enormous bronze sculpture and reliefs represent the various key players in the Civil War.  To view some of the earliest photographs of the Memorial Arch and Prospect Park visit the Prospect Park Alliance website.

Abraham Lincoln

Looking up at the Memorial Arch

The Arch was officially unveiled by President Grover Cleveland in 1892.  In light of the City Beautiful Movement, McKim, Mead and White proposed to accentuate the arch’s classical style by extending the plaza, while Frederick MacMonnies was asked to contribute the 9 sculptures, finally completing the project in 1901.

Another view of the Memorial Arch

Interestingly, the has Arch served another purpose—it previously housed the New York Puppet Free Library. Primarily consisting of larger parade puppets, the Puppet Free Library creatively utilized the space within the Arch for several years. Unfortunately, rain damage to the roof of the structure a few years ago forced the puppets to be relocated to Brooklyn College. Hopefully the roof will be patched up soon and visitors will have a chance to explore the interior of the arch again!

Grand Army Plaza
Brooklyn, NY
Get subway directions via HopStop


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