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Part 5 of 10: The Monuments

The Parkway and its Monuments:  A City Beautiful and Diverse

The Swan Memorial Fountain, at Elm Street (1910), soon after the opening of Conkling Park and the first leg of the Parkway (note the bandstand in the center, the original blueprint for which is in Part 6 of this series).

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!