by Kevin Walsh

WHO is that guy? Two memorials to historic figures stand in WSP, one to Giuseppe Garibaldi, a founder of the united Italy, and the lesser-known 1889 Alexander Lyman Holley Memorial, featuring a bust by John Quincy Adams Ward.

While traveling in Europe, he observed the Bessemer process for making steel and realized its practicality and efficiency. When he returned to the states, he convinced his employer to buy the American patents for it and he became the foremost designer of steel works in the country.

The monument was dedicated Oct. 2, 1890, a gift from three professional engineering societies, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers, though money was raised from related professional groups around the world.

Not everyone was thrilled by the gesture. Many critics, including the editorial boards of several New York newspapers, complained that Holley was hardly a household name. Dianne Durante, author of “Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan,” records the NY Times’s indignant (and rather tortured) thesis from April 24, 1890: “The time is coming … when sites for statues in the Park will be too scarce to be assigned to effigies from which the general public will derive its first knowledge that the originals of them have existed.” NYC Statues

I’d have to say that most of the people who throng Washington Square in the warm months take little notice of these two statues, and if anyone stops to view them, they’re from out of town: most of NYC’s out of towners take more notice of its infrastructure than dyed in the wool residents. But without Holley, the steel used to build the cars, trains and planes that brought them here might not exist in the forms they have today.

As always, “comment…as you see fit.” I earn a small payment when you click on any ad on the site.



Ron S May 3, 2023 - 10:27 am

Who gets a statue and who doesn’t is a fascinating study. As history evolves, some choices turn out to be really prescient and some awful.

Peter May 3, 2023 - 2:08 pm

He is a candidate for the dubious title of The Least-Known Person Honored by a Statue in a Manhattan Park.

Kevin Walsh May 3, 2023 - 2:50 pm

Chester A. Arthur is in the running.

Kenneth Buettner May 4, 2023 - 7:13 am

“Chester Arthur” is the answer to a terrific historical trivia question: “Besides George Washington, who is the only other U.S. President who was inaugurated in New York City?”

Peter May 4, 2023 - 4:00 pm

Arthur is also one of the four former presidents who died in NYC, the others being James Monroe, Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon.

therealguyfaux May 4, 2023 - 1:06 pm

Chester Arthur being the President who succeeded to office on the death of James Garfield. Chet was a local NYC politician and lived at 123 Lexington Avenue (btw 28 & 29). He had been the Collector of the Port, the biggest Federal patronage job in NY and possibly the whole country.

But he had an avenue named after him in The Bronx, so he couldn’t be that obscure, could he? 😉

Kevin Walsh May 4, 2023 - 1:47 pm

All right, try Roscoe Conkling.

rherealguyfaux May 4, 2023 - 9:41 pm

Roscoe Conkling has a statue in Madison Square Park;
He’s also who Roscoe (“Fatty”) Arbuckle was named for, allegedly because his father believed the child wasn’t his, and so insisted that the child be named after the “most notorious b*st*rd” Mr. Arbuckle could think of.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.