The city’s most neglected war memorial might be this granite marker in the Bronx

You can barely walk through a New York City park or square without coming across some kind of war memorial, and I consider that a good thing.

Sturdy doughboy statues, proud eagle sculptures, sedate bronze plaques—these monuments don’t just pay homage to the dead but connect us to different eras in Gotham’s past. They remind us, even for a passing moment as you hurry to catch the bus, about the human toll of combat.

But occasionally you encounter a war memorial that feels not just forgotten but almost actively neglected, so battered by the elements over time that it’s become more of a receptacle for litter, not a source of reflection.

That’s the case with this granite, five-foot marker outside the Hunts Point 6 train station in the Bronx. Intended to honor the Hunts Point natives who lost their lives in World War I, it sits on a sidewalk island once known as Crames Square, for a local resident named Charles Crames who was killed in the Great War.

“To the men of Hunts Point who gave their lives in the World War 1914-1918,” a simple inscription at the top reads like a scroll between two carved ribbons.

This granite marker didn’t start out so unloved. “Three thousand residents of Hunt’s Point [sic] attended the unveiling of a seven-ton granite memorial to World War dead from that part of the Bronx,” wrote the New York Times in a small writeup on May 23, 1938.

The afternoon ceremony went from 2:30 to 4:30, and it was preceded by a parade “of civic organizations, school children, Gold Star mothers and veterans and auxiliaries of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars,” continues the Times.

Buglers played taps, and a local official told the reporter that “the purchase of a bronze eagle three feet in height was being considered by the civic association to complete the monument.”

Eighty-five years after the unveiling, Crames Square no longer honors a Great War casualty because it no longer exists. This busy spot is now known as De Valle Square, after a Cuban-born priest who led the nearby Bronx parishes at St. Anselm’s and St. Athanasius in the 1970s and 1980s.

The granite monument itself hasn’t been erased, but there’s an empty circle which perhaps held the bronze eagle the civic leader at the parade mentioned to the New York Times reporter.

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18 Responses to “The city’s most neglected war memorial might be this granite marker in the Bronx”

  1. ForceTubeAvenue Says:

    I had no idea this monument existed, thanks. I like its simplicity, and the font of the inscription. I’m surprised there is no roll of the names of the fallen. Rellated, there is a beautiful plaque at the East New York subway yard, dedicated to BMT workers lost in the Great War, complete with an image of a subway car.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Ooh, I’d love to see that plaque. Many of these still exist in odd corners and pockets in New York City. I believe there’s a similar one in Central Park—dedicated to Parks employees lost to the war.

  2. Rafael Landrau Says:

    a shame! that we do forget our treasured past.

  3. Carol Bignell Says:

    I love that you help people get to know NY via these pictures and comments. I am unlikely to visit but I love the history you share.

  4. burkemblog Says:

    Fascinating–I didn’t realize this was there. I found this source on the redevelopment of the square–it references the same Times article you do:

  5. Greg Says:

    Thanks for highlighting this, very interesting. The removal of Crames’ name is unfortunate.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      You’re welcome, and I agree. His name should have stayed, but we are a city that likes to tear down and redo.

  6. John Miller Says:

    Thanks for sharing this information on the monument.

  7. Brad Farless Says:

    It’s interesting how people’s priorities change as time passes and those that lived through an event pass away.

    I’m kind of offended by the neglect and the name change. I’d also like to know what was placed on that circle visible on the base of the monument.

    I’d like to think the monument would be refurbished during the intersection redesign, but I have a feeling it’s more likely to be moved or permanently stored.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      I’m surprised it hasn’t been removed and stored away by now, actually. Clearly no one in the neighborhood even notices it. The soda container left on the base is painful to see.

  8. John Says:

    I suppose it hasn’t been torn down, because so few know it’s there.

  9. Ann Volkes Says:

    Emperor Bloomberg removed a war memorial in Union Square on 14th Street near Park Avenue South.

  10. velovixen Says:

    I have gone by that monument a number of times. Thank you for giving us the story behind it.

    It’s unfortunate that the monument is neglected and the name was changed. Memories of World War I have faded and, I believe, for the Hispanics (mainly Dominicans, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans) who are most of the current community, it wasn’t “The Great War.”

    I find it interesting that the architecture of that intersection reflects that of major intersections and plazas in European cities like Paris*, which often have momentoes to the “fallen.”

    *–Louis Aloys Risse, the French engineer who laid out the original street grid of the Bronx, designed the Grand Concourse with the Boulevard de Champs-Elysees in mind. He seemed to be envisioning the Bronx as another Paris.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      I’m glad you noticed the French influence along these major intersections of the Bronx. It blows my mind that the Grand Concourse was supposed to be New York’s answer to the Champs Elysees…it’s hard to see that now.

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