Part 5 of 10: The Monuments
The Parkway and its Monuments: A City Beautiful and Diverse
The Parkway was originally envisioned by Proctor and Olmsted as a wide, tree-lined boulevard, but efforts to adorn the first, western leg of it began soon after its creation. This was consistent with the City Beautiful Movement, which advocated for elegant public art and architecture, as well as parks.
The first Parkway monument was the Swan Memorial Fountain, installed at Elm Street in 1910, which depicts the god Pan, playing his flute. It was created by Frederick William MacMonnies, among whose better-known works were the sculptures on the Grand Army Plaza archway in Brooklyn's Olmsted-designed Prospect Park, a statue of Nathan Hale on the lawn of City Hall in New York City, and the focal-point fountain at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. (The Chicago Exposition, which in many ways kicked off the City Beautiful Movement, was landscaped by Olmsted, Sr., and Olmsted, Jr., still a college student, apprenticed on this project.)
The Parkway's next monument was an imposing statue of General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, commissioned and dedicated by local German Americans on August 3, 1914, as a symbol of their pride as both Germans and Americans (von Steuben was a German who played an important role in the American Revolution). Unfortunately, August 3, 1914, was the day Germany entered World War I, which eventually unleashed a painful wave of anti-German sentiment in Utica and elsewhere.
The von Steuben statue was the first of three monuments on the Parkway representing three of the largest local ethnic groups in the early 1900s--and like the von Steuben monument, the next two were dedicated as part of an effort by such groups to claim a place for themselves in American history and to underscore their new identity as Americans. In 1930, local Polish Americans dedicated a statue of General Casimir Pulaski, "the father of the American cavalry," at the Oneida Street intersection. In 1966, the statue of Christopher Columbus that local Italian American societies had dedicated on Oriskany Boulevard in 1952 was moved to the Parkway at Mohawk Street; it was created by Enrico Arrighini of Pietrasanta, Italy.
"The Hiker" statue (1915), which commemorates the Spanish American War, was the third monument placed on the Parkway, at Oneida Street. It was created by Allen George Newman and is the fifth oldest of 20 such statues in the US; Utica's Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute owns the oldest bronze cast of this statue's model, and another cast of the model is in the collection of the New-York Historical Society in Manhattan. In 1931 a bust of civic leader George Dunham, created by noted Sicilian artist, Filippo Sgarlata, was added at Holland Avenue; it is one of only two known works of public art by Sgarlata in the United States (the other is a bust of Garibaldi in Providence).
The other older Parkway monuments are statues of Thomas R. Proctor (1921) and Vice President James S. Sherman (1923), both by George Brewster, who also created the sculpture of Alexander Hamilton at Hamilton College; Thomas R. Proctor donated the Alexander Hamilton statue to the college in 1918.
Although it's not on the Parkway, Charles Keck's "Eagle," atop Conkling Park, was dedicated in 1923 by Mrs. Thomas R. Proctor to the memory of her husband. Keck also created the Father Duffy Statue in the center of Times Square, the exterior sculptures on the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and a celebrated statue of Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee, Alabama, among other prominent works. The Proctors had both good taste and deep pockets!
Swan Memorial Fountain (circa 1915)
Located at the intersection of the Parkway and Elm Street, this elegant little bronze was dedicated to the memory of Joseph Swan by his wife in 1910. The Smithsonian Institution describes the fountain: "A small bronze figure of Pan playing the flute is installed atop...The fountain has four waterspouts in the form of dog and fish heads. Water flows into bronze sea shells mounted on the shaft, and then into the large granite basin below. At each end of the fountain are water troughs for animals."
Swan Memorial Fountain looking West (circa 1910-11)
The fountain photographed from the rear, shortly after its installation in 1910. In front of it is the first stage of the Parkway, largely devoid of trees and lacking any other monuments. This charming work by noted American artist Frederick William MacMonnies was the first monument on Utica's Olmsted-designed Parkway. Note also to the left is the recently-opened Roscoe Conkling Park, before the creation of the tennis courts or the addition of the Jewett farm, seen in the left background.
Fountain designed by MacMonnies for the Columbian Exposition.
Frederick William MacMonnies was the designer of Utica’s Swan Memorial Fountain—he also created this fountain, an important focal point of Chicago’s famous 1893 Columbian Exposition.
“The Hiker”, as it appeared shortly after its dedication in 1915.
This statue, a monument to the Spanish American War, is located at the intersection of the Parkway and Oneida Street. It is the best-known creation of artist Allen George Newman
Statue of Thomas R. Proctor (1921)
This is the work of sculptor George Brewster, who created the statue "Independent Man," which stands atop the Rhode Island State House, as well as the statues of Vice President James S. Sherman on Genesee Street in Utica and of Alexander Hamilton at Hamilton College. The Proctor statue was originally located on the Master Garden Road entrance to Roscoe Conkling Park, off the Parkway. It was moved in the 1990s to a spot near the intersection of the Parkway and Elm Street. During his lifetime, Proctor explicitly rejected the idea of a monument in his honor; he died on July 4, 1920, and a year later this statue was dedicated despite his preferences.
“The Eagle,” arguably the most widely known piece of public art in Utica
The work of the noted artist American Charles Keck, as photographed on a foggy morning on the hill in Roscoe Conkling Park.
Charles Keck with the model for his famous statue of Booker T. Washington, which was dedicated at Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1922.
In addition to Utica's Eagle monument, Keck also created the exterior sculptures on New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, the Father Duffy statue in Times Square, and the sculpture of Huey Long in Statuary Hall in the Capitol building in Washington.
The Pulaski Statue
Commissioned and dedicated by local Polish American groups in 1930. It is one of the monuments on the Parkway that symbolize the pride of three of the largest local ethnic groups in early twentieth century Utica.
The bust of civic leader George Dunham, at the intersection of the Parkway and Holland Avenue
Created by Sicilian artist Filippo Sgarlata (who had relatives in Utica) during a brief stay in the United States in the late 1920s and early 1930s. This statue is one of only two known public artworks in the United States by Sgarlata.