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If you need a dose of Hamilton after Hamilton, here’s half a dozen places to visit where you can take selfies with Alexander or walk in his footsteps. But first …
Hamilton’s grave is the obvious place to visit, but if the New York Times article of 3/6/16 is any indication, most of you guys are missing the money shot.
When he got back to New York after the Revolutionary War, Hamilton wrote the charter of the city’s (and state’s) first bank: the Bank of New York, established 1784. He also served as its legal adviser.
The Bank of New York survives as part of BNY Mellon, whose headquarters is at 1 Wall Street, looming over Trinity Churchyard. So here’s the shot you should be taking.
While you’re at Trinity Churchyard: here’s the vault that Hercules Mulligan is buried in, with Hamilton’s grave in the background. The marker is for the Whalie and Mulligan families.
The New York Post
Bonus points, here and below, if you can manage to get yourself into the picture while holding a copy of the New York Post. Yes, Hamilton supported Jefferson over Burr in the election of 1800. But Hamilton still disagreed with Jefferson on many issues, and he established the New York Post in 1801 to critique the Jefferson administration.
Extra bonus points if you take the photo on a day when the New York Post’s front page flaunts a Maria Reynolds-style scandal. It was a little more sedate when Hamilton ran it!
Hamilton built a home for his family in the country, a brisk hour-and-a-half commute (by horse-drawn carriage) from the downtown bustle. The two-year project was completed in 1802. The Grange has been shifted twice; it’s now in a park just off St. Nicholas Avenue at 141st St. Outside the house, you’re not walking in Alexander and Eliza’s footsteps. Inside, depending on whether the floorboards have been replaced, you might be.
I love the style and furnishings of this house. Even if you aren’t a Hamilton fan, it’s a beautiful place to visit.
Hamilton Sculptures in Manhattan
Manhattan has four lifesize sculptures of Hamilton – more than of anyone except Washington. Washington edges him out with five … if you count the figures on the Washington Arch as two separate sculptures.
All four sculptures show Hamilton as an orator – appropriate since he discoursed frequently and persuasively, and published voluminously.
A handy PDF of the four Hamilton sculptures in New York is on the Forgotten Delights site. Shorter info on the sculptures (in chronological order by dedication) is below.
Hamilton sculpture #1 (Central Park)
A fifteen-foot-tall marble Hamilton – in a toga! – was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1835. That makes this the earliest Hamilton sculpture still standing in New York. In 1880, it was presented to the city by Alexander’s fourth son, John Church Hamilton, who devoted decades to writing a seven-volume biography of his father. This is the only sculpture that refers to Hamilton’s service in the Revolutionary War: on its pedestal are a sword, scabbard, and chapeau de bras (a type of military hat).
This sculpture stands in Central Park, just west of the Metropolitan Museum. For more about it, see the excerpt from my Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan: A Historical Guide, and the “More” page for the Guides Who Know Monuments of Manhattan app, which includes the guillotining of a sculptor and the New York Times’s description of a mass transit nightmare the day this sculpture was dedicated.
Hamilton sculpture #2 (near the Grange)
Of the four Hamilton sculptures in Manhattan, this is my favorite: the liveliest and the best dressed. I wish some wealthy Hamilton fan would pay to have it moved around the corner and down the hill to the Grange. It looks lost in front of a garden (where the Grange used to stand) and a church. Don’t miss the inscriptions on the pedestal.
Hamilton sculpture #3 (Columbia University)
This one stands on the grounds of Columbia University, which once upon a time was way downtown and known as King’s College. Hamilton attended King’s from 1774 to 1776, then headed off to war before he received his degree.
This sculpture has been in front of Hamilton Hall since 1908. Due west across the South Field stands Thomas Jefferson, by the same sculptor, dedicated in 1914. In the dark of night the wicked words go flying.
Hamilton Sculpture #4 (Museum of the City of New York)
This Hamilton, on the north end of the facade of the Museum of the City of New York (Fifth Avenue at 103rd St.), is balanced at the south end by DeWitt Clinton. Clinton was largely responsible for the Erie Canal, which routed the Midwest’s agricultural produce through New York. Together, the two figures celebrate New York’s role as the commercial capital of America.
For more on this sculpture, see ForgottenDelights.
Hamilton Sculpture #5 (Museum of American Finance)
For the Hamilton exhibition at New-York Historical Society in 2004, a pair of bronzes were commissioned: Hamilton (wearing his glasses!) facing off against Burr. This pair is now at the Museum of American Finance, which doesn’t seem to have any photos on its website. I’ll post pics after I visit, if there are no copyright issues. Meanwhile, you can see Hamilton here; or Google “Statues Duel Hamilton Burr.”
Thanks to Prof. Carrie-Ann Biondi for alerting me to this one, and Iris Bell for reminding me that a Google search turns up many more images.
Hamilton sculptures near New York
Hamilton Sculpture #6 (Morristown, N.J.)
Yes, and don’t be a wuss: get on a bus or train and go visit the Morristown Green. You can put your arm around this one when you’re taking your selfie.
For more pics and more on this sculpture, see my post on Lafayette (Hamilton Musical, 5).
Hamilton sculpture #7 (Patterson Great Falls)
A sculpture of Hamilton (recently refurbished) overlooks Patterson Great Falls, whose water power Hamilton and the Society of Useful Manufactures harnessed to create an industrial center in 1792.
For reminding me of this sculpture and the following one, and for alerting me to the New York Times article that spurred me to write this post, many thanks to Rand Scholet of the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society.
Hamilton sculpture #8 (Philadelphia)
The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia has full-size bronzes of all 42 of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Go have a photo op with Hamilton, Washington, Madison, and your other favorite Founding Fathers. The NCC’s Wikipedia article and Wikimedia page have better photos than the NCC’s site.
The NCC bronzes were created by StudioEIS, the same people who created the group of Washington, Hamilton, and Lafayette on the Morristown Green. They’re famed for their meticulous historical research and execution.
Hamilton Sculpture #9 (Hamilton, Ohio)
This one’s in Hamilton, Ohio – the largest sculpture of Hamilton to date, at 12 feet tall. Its official title is The American Cape: Alexander Hamilton as Orator. The sculptor, Kristen Visbal, sent these two images; see also this page.
Find a Hamilton near you
To see what Hamilton sculptures are near you, search the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s extensive Art Inventories Catalog.
- I first got interested in Hamilton ca. 2002, when I began writing on outdoor sculpture in New York City, and wondered why Hamilton (whom I only knew as the face on the $10 bill) had as many sculptures as Washington. In 2004, the bicentennial of Hamilton’s death, I delivered a biography in segments, as a walking tour of three Hamilton sculptures. Alexander Hamilton: A Brief Biography is an informal transcript of the tour. One of my favorite parts was the lengthy quotes from Hamilton, which I persuaded audience members to read. For the Kindle book, I added a timeline that sets Hamilton’s life in the context of American and European history.
- Two of the Hamilton sculptures above are in my book Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan: A Historical Guide. The Guides Who Know Monuments of Manhattan videoguide is available for iPhone users (free Preview; complete app) and Android users (free preview; complete app).
- If you want to visit all the Founding Fathers sculptures in Manhattan (plus others before 1800), a handy list is here (PDF) and here (web page with pics). Yes, I should update the Forgotten Delights blurb.
- The Bank of New York (est. 1784) isn’t the bank that Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton – and later Philip! – sing about. That one was as a national bank, established in 1791. I thrashed out Hamilton’s reasons for wanting a national bank for my 2004 tour, and lemme tell you, it was hard work for for a humanities major. If you want the short version, see Alexander Hamilton: A Brief Biography, chapter 4.
- I’ve occasionally added comments based on these blog posts to the Genius.com pages on the Hamilton Musical. Follow me @DianneDurante.
- The usual disclaimer: This is the seventh in a series of posts on Hamilton: An American Musical. Other posts are available via the tag cloud at lower right. The ongoing “index” to these posts is my Kindle book, Alexander Hamilton: A Brief Biography. Bottom line: these are unofficial musings, and you do not need them to enjoy the musical or the soundtrack.
- Want wonderful art delivered weekly to your inbox? Check out my Patreon page. You can also sign up for the RSS feed of this blog, follow me on Twitter @NYCsculpture, or friend the Forgotten Delights page on Facebook.