The south face of the arch
Location in Manhattan
|Location||Washington Square Park, Manhattan, New York City, United States|
|Designer||Architect: Stanford White|
Sculptors: Frederick MacMonnies (spandrel panels)
Philip Martiny (keystone eagles}
Hermon A. MacNeil (George Washington As Commander-in Chief
Alexander Stirling Calder (George Washington As President)
|Width||57 ft (17 m)|
|Height||73.5 ft (22.4 m)|
|Span||30 ft (9.1 m)|
The Washington Square Arch, officially the Washington Arch, is a marble Roman triumphal arch in Washington Square Park, in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, New York City. Designed by architect Stanford White in 1892, it commemorates the centennial of George Washington's 1789 inauguration as President of the United States, and forms the southern terminus of Fifth Avenue.
Washington Arch, constructed of white Tuckahoe marble, was conceived by Stanford White, who imitated a Roman Triumphal Arch, iconic monuments which Roman emperors built throughout the empire to celebrate a victory or event. Washington Arch stands 77 feet (23 m) high. The piers stand 30 feet (9.1 m) apart and the arch opening is 47 feet (14 m) high. The iconography of the Arch centers on images of war and peace. On the frieze are 13 large stars and 42 small stars, interspersed with capital "W"s. The spandrels contain figures of Victory.
The inscription on the attic story reads:
Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God.— Washington
The north side of the eastern pier bears the sculpture George Washington as Commander-in-Chief, Accompanied by Fame and Valor (1914–1916) by Hermon A. MacNeil; the President is flanked by Fame (left) and Valor (right). The western pier has George Washington as President, Accompanied by Wisdom and Justice (1917–18) by Alexander Stirling Calder (father of Alexander Calder), with flanking Justice (right) and Wisdom (left) figures. In the latter sculpture, a hand holds a book bearing the Latin phrase Exitus Acta Probat ("the end justifies the deed"). These sculptures are commonly referred to as Washington at War and Washington at Peace, respectively. These figures and most of the rest of the carving on the arch was performed by the Piccirilli Brothers.
In 1889, a large plaster and wood memorial arch was erected over Fifth Avenue just north of Washington Square Park by local businessman and philanthropist William Rhinelander Stewart (1852–1929). Stewart lived at 17 Washington Square North, and his friends contributed $2,765 toward the work. The temporary arch was so popular that more money was raised and, three years later, the permanent stone arch, designed by architect Stanford White, was erected.
During the excavations for the eastern pier, human remains, a coffin, and a gravestone dated 1803 were uncovered 10 feet (3.0 m) below ground level. The Arch was dedicated in 1895. In 1918, two statues of Washington were added to the north side.
By the late 20th century, the Washington Arch had become extensively defaced with spray-painted graffiti. It was cleaned and restored in the 1980s.
In modern times, the Washington Square Arch has become an unofficial symbol of New York University.