Stop, look, and discover—the streets and parks of Manhattan are filled with beautiful historic monuments that will entertain, stimulate, and inspire you. Among the 54 monuments in this volume are major figures in American history: Washington, Lincoln, Lafayette, Horace Greeley, and Gertrude Stein; more obscure figures: Daniel Butterfield, J. Marion Sims, and King Jagiello; as well as the icons of New York: Atlas, Prometheus, and the Firemen's Memorial. The monuments represent the work of some of America's best sculptors: Augustus Saint Gaudens’ Farragut and Sherman, Daniel Chester French’s Four Continents, and Anna Hyatt Huntington’s José Martí and Joan of Arc.
Each monument, illustrated with black-and-white photographs, is located on a map of Manhattan and includes easy-to-follow directions. All the sculptures are considered both as historical mementos and as art. We learn of furious General Sherman court-martialing a civilian journalist, and also of exasperated Saint Gaudens’ proposing a hook-and-spring device for improving his assistants' artistic acuity as they help model Sherman. We discover how Lincoln dealt with a vociferous Confederate politician from Ohio, and why the Lincoln in Union Square doesn't rank as a top-notch Lincoln portrait. Sidebars reveal other aspects of the figure or event commemorated, using personal quotes, poems, excerpts from nineteenth-century periodicals (New York Times, Harper's Weekly), and writers ranging from Aeschylus, Washington Irving, and Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi to Mark Twain and Henryk Sienkiewicz.
As a historical account, Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan: A Historical Guide is a fascinating look at figures and events that changed New York, the United States and the world. As an aesthetic handbook it provides a compact method for studying sculpture, inspired by Ayn Rand’s writings on art. For residents and tourists, and historians and students, who want to spend more time viewing and appreciating sculpture and New York history, this is the start of a unique voyage of discovery.
“[Durante’s] guidebook is a perfect walking-tour accompaniment to help New Yorkers and visitors find, identify and better appreciate statues famous and obscure (honoring, among others, the ‘father of gynecology’ and the general who had an unremarkable military and business career but composed ‘Taps,’ the bugle call). . . . Durante winsomely places 54 monuments in historical and artistic perspective. We learn that a trumpet is an allegory for announcing fame, that the monument to Admiral Farragut in Madison Square Park altered the course of American sculpture, that the figure with the winged hat atop Grand Central Terminal is Mercury and that the statue of Atlas at Rockefeller Center was reviled when it was unveiled in 1937 because it supposedly resembled Mussolini. Let’s hope Ms. Durante follows up in the other four boroughs.”
-The New York Times
“Anyone whose curiosity has ever been piqued by the peculiar mixture of historical statues that ornament the grounds of Central Park will find Outdoor Monuments by Dianne Durante a satisfying read. . . . The entries provide background on each work’s origin, explaining, for example, how a statue of the medieval Polish king Jagiello came to be in New York alongside more predictable allegorical and American patriotic figures. A brief history of the subject is also provided, including enough lively anecdotes and obscure facts to entice all readers.”
“[Durante] tackles her task in the manner of a walking tour. . . . The language of the book is friendly and chatty, as if the author were in front of you, conducting an on-site lecture. . . . The purpose of the book is to encourage people to go and see the wealth of outdoor sculpture in Manhattan, and the book treats this purpose with the enthusiasm the subjects deserve.”
-The Art Book
“Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan is a primer on getting to know our city’s monuments. . . . Each entry has a uniform structure. It contains a photo, vital stats (year dedicated, size, materials), an ‘About the Sculpture’ section, and an ‘About the Subject’ section, as well as a carefully chosen boxed quotation culled from an old book or newspaper that pertains to the subject. . . . Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan is well written, well researched, well-thought-out, funny, and often refreshingly original, and will help any interested New Yorker know about the wondrous monuments that dot the city.”
-New York Sun