Posts Tagged ‘World War I’

The Doughboys of New York City

November 12, 2008

Many of New York’s small neighborhood parks have one: a bronze statue of a lone infantryman or sometimes several soldiers together, with a plaque memorializing all the local young men killed in World War I. These statues of doughboys are heroic and somber, and they’re worth a look as Veteran’s Day comes to a close.

Here’s the Red Hook doughboy, in his glory. The names of dozens of neighborhood men who died in the war are inscribed on a tablet below.

redhookdoughboy

The Bushwick doughboy is dashing and heroic, posed under the M train tracks:

bushwicksoldier

Chelsea’s doughboy has an unusual hat and cape:

chelseadoughboy

Surviving war is a team effort, as the Washington Heights/Inwood monument makes clear:

inwooddoughboys1

There’s another doughboy statue in DeWitt Clinton Park in the West 50s. The haunting final lines of the great war poem In Flanders Fields are inscribed at its base.

A victory parade at Madison Square Park

November 10, 2008

In March 1919, the city threw a spectacular parade on Fifth Avenue to honor the soldiers from New York’s 27th Division, who broke the Hindenburg Line in World War I and forced the Germans to retreat. 

A ceremony took place at the victory arch at Madison Square Park, built in 1918 and modeled after the Arch of Constantine in Rome. Nope, it’s not there anymore. Despite an attempt to make it a permanent part of the park, the arch was eventually torn down.

victoryarch1

Of 27,114 men, the 27th division sustained more than 8,000 casualties. The New York Times had this to say about the parade: 

“Early Tuesday morning the Avenue from 23rd Street to 26th Street will be carpeted with sand and roped off. As the head of the parade comes down the ropes will be severed by a bayonet wielded by a Sergeant wearing British and American valor medals.

“A caisson with memorial casket and wreath, drawn by eight black horses, with a military guard, will pass slowly under the arch, while the guns of the harbor’s forts boom out a 21-gun salute.”

The DeWitt Clinton Park doughboy

April 23, 2008

This statue of a pensive infantryman was dedicated in 1929. It’s a memorial to the young men in the neighborhood, Hell’s Kitchen, who lost their lives in World War I. 

Check out the verse inscribed on the base of the statue—the last three lines from In Flanders Fields, the solemn war poem written by Canadian John McCrae, a surgeon at Ypres.