“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
New York in New York County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Firemenís Memorial

Riverside Park

Firemenís Memorial Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, March 29, 2012
1. Firemenís Memorial Marker
† † † The Firemenís Memorial (1913) in Riverside Park is one of the most impressive monuments in New York City. The monument was designed by H. Van Buren Magonigle (1867-1935) and its sculptures are attributed to Attilio Piccirilli (1866-1945).

† † † Riverside Drive stretches along Riverside Park and the Hudson River from West 72nd Street to Dyckman Street. When New York started expanding northward, the City acquired land in 1866-67 for a park and scenic drive between the Hudson River Railroad and the rocky bluffs along the river. The original 1875 plan, by Frederick Law Olmsted, the co-designer of Central Park, called for a park with a picturesque drive winding along the natural contours of the land. Twenty-five years later, the result was an English-style rustic park and a formal tree-lined boulevard.

† † † A fashionable address at the turn of the 20th century, Riverside Drive attracted a collection of substantial neoclassical apartment houses and mansions along its eastern side. The Driveís majestic elevation also made it an impressive location for colossal monuments and institutions, including Grantís Tomb (1897) and
Firemenís Memorial Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, March 29, 2012
2. Firemenís Memorial Marker
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Riverside Church (1930). The Firemenís Memorial is one of more than a dozen monuments along Riverside Drive, including sculptures of Franz Sigel (1907), Joan of Arc (1915), Samuel Tilden (1926), Lajos Kossuth (1930), and Eleanor Roosevelt (1996).

† † † This monument is said to have had its origins in the remarks of the Right Reverend Henry C. Potter at the funeral of Deputy Fire Chief Charles A. Kruger in 1908. Bishop Potter said that while there were many memorials to public and private citizens there were none “to our brave citizens who have lost or will sacrifice their lives in a war that never ends.” Potter was the first chairman of the memorial committee, succeeded by Isidor Straus (1845-1912), a founder of Macyís department store, who lived at 105th Street and West End Avenue and died on the R.M.S. Titanic. The committee raised $90,500, of which $50,500 was through popular subscription and $40,000 was in public funds allocated by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment on July 17, 1911.

† † † Though originally intended for the north end of Union Square, the monument was ultimately built on the hillside facing the Hudson River at 100th Street. The memorial comprises a grand staircase (once flanked by ornamental luminaries), a balustrade plaza, a fountain basin, and the central monument. Made of Knoxville marble, the monument is a sarcophagus-like
Marker on Riverside Drive image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, March 29, 2012
3. Marker on Riverside Drive
structure with a massive bas-relief of horses drawing an engine to a fire (the original was replaced by a bronze replica in the 1950s); to the south and north are allegorical sculpture groups representing “Duty” and “Sacrifice,” for which the celebrated model Audrey Munson (1891-1996) is said to have posed.

† † † The architect, Magonigle, also designed the memorial to President McKinley (1843-1901) in Canton, Ohio. Piccirilli, the sculptor, came from a family of master Italian stone carvers who settled in New York City and had a studio in the Bronx. They contributed sculptural and ornamental carving to the Washington Square Arch and the Pulitzer Fountain. Attilio Piccirilli also collaborated with Magonigle on the Maine Monument at Columbus Circle, at the southwest corner of Central Park.

† † † The memorial exemplifies a classical grandeur that characterized several civic monuments built in New York City from the 1890s to World War I, as part of an effort dubbed the City Beautiful Movement, which was meant to improve the standard of urban public design and achieve an uplifting union of art and architecture. This monument has twice undergone extensive restoration, once in the late 1930s, through a W.P.A.-sponsored conservation program, and more recently through a $2 million city-funded capital project completed in 1992.

† † † The monument
Firemenís Memorial image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, March 29, 2012
4. Firemenís Memorial
was dedicated on September 5, 1913, and was formally accepted on behalf of the city by Mayor William Gaynor (1848-1913), who died later that month. Each autumn, the incumbent mayor joins the fire commissioner and thousands of uniformed firefighters at the Firefighterís Memorial to honor the memory of firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty. This well-attended ceremony reaffirms the dedication of these public servants, who perform heroic acts on a daily basis.

† † † On September 11, 2001 the Fire Department suffered by far its worst loss in a single day, when 343 firefighters died in response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centerís Twin Towers. Their heroism in the face of death demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the publicís safety, and in the weeks following tragedy, this monument became a vigil site and shrine for those in mourning.

City of New York Parks & Recreation
Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor
Adrian Benepe, Commissioner
Text Written: December 2001

Erected 2001 by City of New York Parks & Recreation.
Topics. This historical marker memorial is listed in this topic list: Heroes. A significant historical month for this entry is July 1839.
Location. 40° 47.924′ N, 73° 58.395′ W. Marker is in New York, New York, in New York County. Marker
Firemenís Memorial image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, March 29, 2012
5. Firemenís Memorial
is at the intersection of Riverside Drive and W 100th Street, on the right when traveling north on Riverside Drive. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: New York NY 10025, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Fire Horses (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Firemenís Memorial (a few steps from this marker); John Merven Carrere Memorial (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Gershwin Family Residence (approx. 0.2 miles away); Humphrey DeForest Bogart (approx. 0.2 miles away); Teresa CarreŮo (approx. ľ mile away); Shinran Shonin (approx. ľ mile away); a different marker also named Shinran Shonin (approx. ľ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New York.
Also see . . .  The Firemen's Memorial - Riverside Park at 100th Street. "Daytonian in Manhattan" entry. (Submitted on April 9, 2020, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.) 
Firemenís Memorial image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, March 29, 2012
6. Firemenís Memorial
Firemenís Memorial Plaque image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, March 29, 2012
7. Firemenís Memorial Plaque
The bas-relief plaque on the Firemenís Memorial depicts a fire wagon being pulled by horses racing to a fire.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 9, 2020. It was originally submitted on March 30, 2012, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 626 times since then and 79 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on March 30, 2012, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.

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Sep. 19, 2021