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In Honor of Memorial Day: A Look at the Admiral Farragut Monument


Cleaning Admiral Farragut

On the morning of April 21, following a heavy spring shower, Wilson Conservation was in Madison Square Park cleaning the magnificent Farragut Monument. Thirteen years earlier, in 2002, the MAS restored the Farragut Monument, one of America’s most acclaimed works of art, through a generous grant to the Adopt-A-Monument program from the Paul and Klara Porzelt Foundation. The 1880 sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the preeminent American sculptor of the 19th century, depicts the revered naval hero, Admiral Glasgow Farragut, whose lasting fame was won by wresting New Orleans from Confederate control during the Civil War. Saint-Gaudens shows the admiral in full regalia but by 2002 the sculpture had lost its original luster as well as its sword after years of neglect. Esteemed architect Stanford White designed the exquisite semi-circular granite exedra on which the monument stands. The base, bedecked with Art Nouveau- inspired allegorical reliefs, had also been marred over time. Both were returned to their former glory with this restoration.


The MAS, through its program of annual maintenance, has remained dedicated to preserving the Farragut Monument as well as 37 other “Adopt” statues conserved in parks throughout the five boroughs. At the Farragut, dirt, surface accretions, biological deposits and unfortunate elements of graffiti, were removed and the piece was washed with water and a neutral anionic detergent. The bronze, which has a protective coating of Incralac from the 2002 conservation, was allowed to dry before two thin coats of microcrystalline paste wax were brushed on the figure. After each application, the metal was hand buffed to better preserve it. The granite base was cleaned with low pressure water and mild detergent using natural bristle brushes. Small dark stains on the exedra were reduced significantly; white paint and black magic marker were removed with acetone and cotton swabs. Only with such care can these public art treasures continue to infuse magic into our city life.

Before and after

Before and after

As Memorial Day approaches, we also celebrate the statue of Admiral Farragut among more than 270 monuments, commemorative plaques and triumphal arches, honoring military heroes, soldiers and wars that adorn New York City’s parks. Over one quarter of our city’s 1,000 public statues are memorials. These works of art, stirring images and silent companions, are symbols of our past ideals, given permanence in bronze and stone and lasting records of our country’s history.


After treatment


A Message from MAS President Vin Cipolla

Dear MAS Members,

MAS President Vin Cipolla

MAS President Vin Cipolla

The first half of 2015 is off to an incredible start. MAS has been driving the advocacy for an even better, more diverse, more affordable, livable, culturally rich and resilient New York, through a bold sweep of initiatives—our most ambitious policy efforts ever. At MAS, we are driven by pursuing excellence in the choices we as New Yorkers make in shaping our city for generations to come. We have a lot to gain in demanding the best for our city’s extraordinarily distinctive and dynamic environment (and a lot to lose if we’re not smart.) Continue Reading>>

Frick Collection’s Page Garden Must Be Saved

MAS has declared its intention to publicly oppose any expansion plan that places the Page garden in danger. Read our letter delivered Thursday, May 7, 2015, to Ian Wardropper, Director, the Frick Collection: Continue Reading>>

Sunshine Task Force Town Hall

MAS has been actively involved with development issues near Central Park for decades. In 1987, we organized a “Stand Against the Shadow,” where hundreds of protestors with black umbrellas demonstrated potential shadows cast by proposed tall towers on what was then the Coliseum site. And in December 2013, we responded to the sudden influx of super tall towers along 57th street with our seminal Accidental Skyline report, tracing the city’s transferable air rights process. In the 18 months since our report came, there has been no city action in response, while more towers threaten to overwhelm our parks and public spaces.

The fundamental problem here is outdated zoning regulations. New York City’s current zoning resolution was devised over 50 years ago and could not account for recent advances in building technologies or the changes in the real estate markets that have led to the construction of super tall towers.

Fifty years is an eternity in the lifespan of building design and construction. Fifty years before the Empire State Building topped out, the tallest structure in Manhattan was the steeple at Trinity Church. Using 1961 zoning guidelines in the era of 432 Park is like applying colonial construction standards to the 1930s skyscraper boom.

These buildings are largely being built as-of-right and without any public review, even though they will be among the tallest structures in the country. Continue Reading>>

Jane’s Walk Weekend is Back—and Bigger than Ever

Jane's Walk NYCOn May 1, 2 & 3, MAS Hosts 200+ Free Walking Tours Across NYC, An Annual Tribute to Urban Activist Jane Jacobs

On May 1-3, thousands of New Yorkers will walk the city’s streets in honor of urban activist—and Robert Moses’ nemesis—Jane Jacobs. Jane’s Walk NYC, hosted by the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS), is an annual weekend-long celebration featuring 200+ free “walking conversations” throughout the five boroughs, led by urban enthusiasts and local experts who care deeply about their neighborhoods.

“Jane’s Walk NYC has exploded in size from just 23 tours in 2011, to more than 200 coming up this May 1-3,” said Margaret Newman, Executive Director MAS. “This year’s incredible line-up of free ‘walking conversations’ takes New Yorkers on a tour through some of the biggest battles facing the five boroughs and the secret histories that helped make this the greatest city on earth. Where will you walk this year?” Continue Reading>>