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The Statue of the Triumph of Civic Virtue

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Frequently debated and relocated statue by Frederick William MacMonnies

Place Details

Borough : Queens
Neighborhood : Kew Gardens
Public Art, Gathering Place

Place Matters Profile

By Vanessa Pava-Villamizar

The Statue of The Triumph of Civic Virtue (over vice and corruption), created by architect Frederick William MacMonnies, has been the source of much controversy, so much so that it has been relocated around the city several times. Using the bequest of $53,000 by socialite Angelina Crane in 1891 to the city of New York, former mayor George B. McClellan commissioned MacMonnies to design a monumental fountain to stand in City Hall Park in her honor. Crane, a wealthy widow, left only five dollars to her "undutiful" daughter. While she left several thousand dollars to a handful of charities, the majority of her fortune went to the city and drinking fountain. While the commission and intended location should have stimulated a sense of public service and its ideology, in the end, MacMonnies statue of Civic Virtue produced great controversy.

According to MacMonnies, "I had plenty of time...

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"Behind the Scenes: Public Sculpture in New York City - WNYC." Features. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2013.

"“CIVIC VIRTUE” ON THE MOVE? | | Forgotten New YorkForgotten New York." Forgotten New York. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2013.

"Civic Virtue, Queens Monument, Must Be Saved: Charges of Sexism Are an Insult to Our History." NY Daily News. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2013.

Fried, Frederick, and Edmund Vincent. Gillon. New York Civic Sculpture: A Pictorial Guide. New York: Dover Publications, 1976. Print.

"History." Triumph of Civic Virtue. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2013.

"Inside the Apple: The Fate of Frederick MacMonniess "Civic Virtue"" Inside the Apple: The Fate of Frederick MacMonniess "Civic Virtue" N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2013.

"Learning to Give, Philanthropy Education Resources That Teach Giving and Civic Engagement." Learning to Give. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2013.

N.p., n.d. Web.

"Public Sculpture and the Civic Ideal in New York City, 1890-1930 [Hardcover]." Public Sculpture and the Civic Ideal in New York City, 1890-1930: Michele H. Bogart: 9780226063096: Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2013.

"Triumph Of Civic Virtue." CBS New York. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2013. 


Vanessa Pava-Villamizar, Nominated through Dr. Marta Gutmans Gender and Architecture Class, Spitzer School of Architecture, City College of New York, 2013

The Statue of Civic Virtue is an important sculpture in history marking the controversy of the symbolism used degrading women and the women groups rallying and protesting against the work and its imagery. Im nominating the Statue because I believe that it is a demonstrates how even in public art people can form strong opinions and come together under a common cause and idea. Furthermore, it affects me strongly because up until recently the statue was in my neighborhood and I was able to witness the ongoing battle after almost 100 years of its construction.

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