New York in New York County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Slocum Memorial Fountain
Tompkins Square Park
Dedicated in 1906, this fountain serves as a reminder of those who died aboard the excursion steamer General Slocum on June 15, 1904. Prior to September 11, 2001, the burning of the General Slocum had the highest death toll of any disaster in New York City history. The incident claimed an irreplaceable part of the Lower East Side community once known as Little Germany and remains the worst inland-waters, peacetime tragedy in the nation’s history.
The Slocum was a triple-decker wooden ship built in 1891, named after General Henry Warner Slocum (1827-1894) who commanded the extreme right line of the Union Army at Gettysburg and represented the City of Brooklyn in Congress for three terms. It was one of nearly a dozen excursion steamers that traveled around New York waterways, enabling working class people to escape the city even if just for a few hours. On its final voyage, the Slocum was to vary its normal two trips to the Rockaways in order to bring a large party to Locust Grove on Long Island.
The approximately 1,300 passengers and 35 member crew included the congregation of St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, located on
Twenty minutes after the ship departed the Third Street pier on the East River, it entered the ever treacherous junction of the East River, New York Harbor and Long Island Sound. There it was overtaken not by the current but by flames and Captain William Van Schaik docked, shortly after 10AM, at North Brother Island, near Riker’s Island. Of the more than 1,000 people who died, many were buried in the Lutheran cemetery in Middle Village, Queens, where a monument was erected in 1905 to honor the unidentified dead. The disaster was the fatal end of a ship with a history of accidents and was attributed to inadequate safety precautions and the negligence of the Captain.
The Slocum Memorial Fountain by sculptor Bruno Louis Zimm was donated by the Sympathy Society of German Ladies and installed in Tompkins Square Park, a central feature of the neighborhood. The nine foot upright stele is made of pink Tennessee marble with a low relief of two children looking seaward as well as a lionhead spout. Zimm, who was a member of the Woodstock Artists Colony, also designed a similar
The monument was restored in 1991 under a Parks capital project. In 1990 a Slocum Memorial Fountain Fund in excess of $6000 was raised by popular subscription by the Slocum Memorial Committee which as been succeeded by the Maritime Industry Museum at Fort Schuyler, site of the SUNY maritime College, in The Bronx. The funds are held by the Municipal Art Society as part of New York City’s Adopt-A-Monument program.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & Religion • Disasters • Waterways & Vessels.
Location. 40° 43.616′ N, 73° 58.882′ W. Marker is in New York, New York, in New York County. Marker can be reached from East 9th Street. within Tompkins Square Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: New York NY 10009, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Tompkins Square Park (a few steps from this marker); Ukrainian-American Flagstaff (within shouting distance of this marker); Temperance Fountain (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Harry Lloyd Hopkins (about 400 feet away); Charlie Parker Residence (about 400 feet away); Frank O'Hara (1926-1966) (about 500 feet away); Samuel Sullivan Cox (about 600 feet away); W.H. Auden (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New York.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. General Slocum Disaster Centennial plaque at the former St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Also see . . .
1. The General Slocum Memorial Fountain - Tomkins Square Park. Entry at the"Daytonian in Manhattan" blog. (Submitted on February 3, 2020, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.)
2. The General Slocum Memorial Fountain - Tompkins Square Park. "Daytonian in Manhattan" entry. (Submitted on April 12, 2020, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.)
Credits. This page was last revised on April 12, 2020. It was originally submitted on January 26, 2018, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. This page has been viewed 141 times since then and 42 times this year. Last updated on February 24, 2020, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on January 26, 2018, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. 3. submitted on February 15, 2020, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. • Michael Herrick was the editor who published this page.