New York City Sculptures of Figures from American History Active Before 1800

This list of sculptures of figures from American history who were active before 1800 is arranged roughly in chronological order, by date of their major accomplishment or the event commemorated. At the end of the post is a list sorted by neighborhood, from south to north.

I’ve noted when a work is described in my Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan: A Historical Guide. All the sculptures in Outdoor Monuments are also in the Monuments of Manhattan app, which is full of fabulous archival illustrations. Monuments of Manhattan is available for Android (preview here, purchase here) and iPhone (preview here, purchase here).  You can also look up any of these works on the New York City Parks Department’s monuments pages.

On the controversy over Columbus and other outdoor sculptures, see my essay “Politics and Portrait Sculptures.”

1. Columbus Monument, by Gaetano Russo, dedicated 1892

Columbus Circle, intersection of Eighth Avenue, Central Park South and 59th Street. Outdoor Monuments #35; also here (the supplementary page for the Monuments of Manhattan app) and here.

Gaetano Russo, Columbus Monument, dedicated 1892. Columbus Circle, New York. Photo copyright © 2007 Dianne L. Durante

2. Christopher Columbus, by Jeronimo Sunol, dedicated 1894

Central Park, at the south end of the Mall, just north of the 65th Street Transverse. Outdoor Monuments #36; also here (the supplementary page for the Monuments of Manhattan app) and here.

Jeronimo Sunol, Christopher Columbus, 1894. Photo copyright © 2017 Dianne L. Durante

3. Giovanni da Verrazzano, by Ettore Ximenes, dedicated 1909

Battery Park, facing north to West Street. Verrazzano was the first European to sail into New York Harbor (April 17, 1524). Outdoor Monuments #3; also here (the supplementary page for the Monuments of Manhattan app) and here.

Ettore Ximenes, Giovanni da Verrazzano, 1909. Battery Park. Photo copyright © 2017 Dianne L. Durante

4. The Pilgrim, by John Quincy Adams Ward, dedicated 1885

Central Park, north of the 72nd Street Transverse. Walk into the Park at East 72nd Street, stay on the north side of the sidewalk, and the statue is up the hill on the right, just as the 72nd Street Transverse splits into east- and westbound lanes. Honors the arrival of the Pilgrims in the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock, 1620. See Forgotten Delights: The Producers Essay 4.

John Quincy Adams Ward, The Pilgrim, 1885. Central Park. Photo copyright © 2017 Dianne L. Durante

5. New York in Infancy and New York in Revolutionary Times, by Philip Martiny, 1907

Entrance to Surrogate’s Court, 31 Chambers Street (at Centre). On the left, the allegorical figure of New York wears a crown representing royal rule, and carries books and a document; to the left and right are an Indian and a Dutch settler.

Philip Martiny, New York in Infancy, 1907. Surrogate’s Court, New York. Photo copyright © 2013 Dianne L. Durante

On the right, New York wears a helmet, carries a torch in her left hand (symbolizing enlightenment), and rests her other hand on a globe. To the left, a British soldier stands before a shield bearing the motto of Great Britain. To the right, a woman in 18th-century garb holding flowers stands before a shield with the Stars and Stripes. See here.

Philip Martiny, New York in Revolutionary Times, 1907. Surrogate’s Court, New York. Photo copyright © 2013 Dianne L. Durante

6. Peter Stuyvesant, by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, 1936

Stuyvesant Square, between 16th and 17th Streets, west of Second Avenue. Stuyvesant was the last director-general of New Amsterdam; he reluctantly surrendered it to the English in 1664. Outdoor Monuments #16; also here (the supplementary page for the Monuments of Manhattan app) and here.

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, Peter Stuyvesant, 1936. Stuyvesant Square, New York. Photo copyright © 2013 Dianne L. Durante

7. Abraham de Peyster, by George Edwin Bissell, 1896

Thomas Paine Park, the triangle between Centre, Worth, and Lafayette Streets. De Peyster was a merchant and government official in the late 17th century, soon after Manhattan was taken over by the English. See the NYC Parks site.

George Edwin Bissell, Abraham de Peyster, 1896. Thomas Paine Park, New York. Photo copyright © 2017 Dianne L. Durante

8. Benjamin Franklin, by Ernst Plassmann, ca. 1872

East side of Park Row at Nassau Street, in front of Pace University (just south of the Brooklyn Bridge entrance ramp). Scientist, inventor, journalist, publisher, and the most prominent American diplomat during the Revolutionary War. See here.

Ernst Plassmann, Benjamin Franklin, ca. 1872. Park Row near the Brooklyn Bridge entrance ramp. Photo copyright © 2013 Dianne L. Durante

9. Thomas Jefferson, by William Ordway Partridge, 1914

Columbia University, in front of the Graduate School of Journalism: enter on Broadway at 116th Street, turn right at the end of the first building, then right again. Writer of the Declaration of Independence (1776); third president of the United States (1801-1809). Outdoor Monuments #50; also here (the supplementary page for the Monuments of Manhattan app) and here.

William Ordway Partridge, Thomas Jefferson, 1914. Columbia University. Photo copyright © 2013 Dianne L. Durante

10. Nathan Hale, by Frederick MacMonnies, 1890

Facing City Hall, at the north end of City Hall Park. To see his face, you need permission to enter the City Hall grounds. Twenty-one-year-old schoolteacher, captured and hanged as a spy by the British in 1776. Outdoor Monuments #8; also here (the supplementary page for the Monuments of Manhattan app) and here.

Frederick MacMonnies, Nathan Hale, 1890. City Hall Park. Photo copyright © 2013 Dianne L. Durante

11. Marquis de Lafayette, by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, 1873

Union Square at East 16th Street. French aristocrat dedicated to fighting for liberty; served in the American army 1777-1781. Outdoor Monuments #14; also here (the supplementary page for the Monuments of Manhattan app) and here.

Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, Marquis de Lafayette, 1873. Union Square. Photo copyright © 2013 Dianne L. Durante

12. Lafayette and Washington, by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, 1890

114th Street and Manhattan Avenue, at Morningside Avenue. See here.

Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, Lafayette and Washington, 1890. 114th Street and Manhattan Avenue. Photo copyright © 2013 Dianne L. Durante

13. General George Washington, by Henry Kirke Brown, 1856

South side of Union Square, facing 14th Street, between University Place and Broadway. Washington as commander in chief greeting New Yorkers on Evacuation Day (November 25, 1783), when the British troops finally left the city. Outdoor Monuments #13; also here (the supplementary page for the Monuments of Manhattan app).

Henry Kirke Brown, General George Washington, 1856. Union Square. Photo copyright © 2013 Dianne L. Durante

14. George Washington, by John Quincy Adams Ward, 1883

Wall Street at Nassau, in front of the Federal Hall National Memorial. Shown in 1789, being inaugurated as first president of the United States. The bronze relief to the left (west) of the steps shows Washington praying at Valley Forge. Outdoor Monuments #6; also here (the supplementary page for the Monuments of Manhattan app) and here.

John Quincy Adams Ward, George Washington, 1883. Wall Street. Photo copyright © 2013 Dianne L. Durante

15. Washington Arch by architect Stanford White, with sculptures by Herman MacNeil and Alexander Stirling Calder

Washington Square Park, Fifth Avenue at Washington Square North. The Arch was built 1889-1892. On the left (east) side is Washington as commander in chief, flanked by Fame and Valor (by MacNeil, 1914-1916). On the right side is Washington as president, flanked by Wisdom and Justice (by Calder, 1917-1919). Outdoor Monuments #12; also here (the supplementary page for the Monuments of Manhattan app) and here.

Washington Arch. Washington Square Park. Photo copyright © 2013 Dianne L. Durante

16. Alexander Hamilton, by Carl Conrads, 1880

Central Park, off the East Drive west of the Metropolitan Museum (approximately 83rd Street). First secretary of the Treasury (1789-1795), promoter of business and commerce, co-founder of the Bank of New York (1784) and the New York Post (1801). Outdoor Monuments #43; also here (the supplementary page for the Monuments of Manhattan app) and here. See also “Oh, I can’t wait to see you again!” in my series of posts on the Hamilton musical.

Carl Conrads, Alexander Hamilton, 1880. Central Park. Photo copyright © 2013 Dianne L. Durante

17. Alexander Hamilton, by Adolph A. Weinman, ca. 1940

On the facade of the Museum of the City of New York, Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street. The second sculpture on the facade is DeWitt Clinton, on whom see Outdoor Monuments #48; for more information on Weinman, see here (the supplementary page for the Monuments of Manhattan app).  See also “Oh, I can’t wait to see you again!” in my series of posts on the Hamilton musical.

Adolph A. Weinman, Alexander Hamilton, ca. 1940. Museum of the City of New York. Photo copyright © 2013 Dianne L. Durante

18. Alexander Hamilton, by William Ordway Partridge, 1908

Columbia University, in front of Hamilton Hall. Enter the campus on Broadway at 116th Street, walk east, turn right down the stairs, then left (east) to the front of Hamilton Hall. It stands not far from Thomas Jefferson (#9 above).  See also “Oh, I can’t wait to see you again!” in my series of posts on the Hamilton musical.

William Ordway Partridge, Alexander Hamilton, 1908. Columbia University. Photo copyright © 2013 Dianne L. Durante

19. Alexander Hamilton, by William Ordway Partridge, 1892

287 Convent Avenue, between West 141st and West 142nd Streets (a block north of the current site of the Grange). This is my personal favorite among the four Hamilton sculptures in New York. Outdoor Monuments #53; also here (the supplementary page for the Monuments of Manhattan app). See also “Oh, I can’t wait to see you again!” in my series of posts on the Hamilton musical.

William Ordway Partridge, Alexander Hamilton, 1892. Convent Avenue. Photo copyright © 2013 Dianne L. Durante

The sculptures by neighborhood, south to north

  • Giovanni da Verrazzano, #3
  • Abraham de Peyster, #7
  • George Washington, #14
  • Nathan Hale, #10
  • Benjamin Franklin, #8
  • New York in Infancy; New York in Revolutionary Times #5
  • Washington Arch, #15
  • George Washington, #13
  • Marquis de Lafayette, #11
  • Peter Stuyvesant, #6
  • Columbus Monument, #1
  • Columbus in Central Park, #2
  • The Pilgrim, #4
  • Alexander Hamilton, #16
  • Alexander Hamilton, #17
  • Thomas Jefferson, #9
  • Alexander Hamilton, #18
  • Lafayette and Washington, #12
  • Alexander Hamilton, #19