Plans are afoot to move a statue, the Triumph of Civic Virtue by Frederick MacMonnies, from its home on Queens Boulevard to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
The statue should stay put.
The Triumph of Civic Virtue has spent its history at the center of controversy. First situated in City Hall Park, the statue was so despised by then-mayor Fiorello LaGuardia that he ordered it banished to Queens in 1941.
More recently, the statue has come under fire for being “sexist” because it depicts a nude Hercules standing on top of two female-like figures representing Vice and Corruption.
Now, it’s at the center of a battle between the city and the borough’s historic preservationists, who have long been calling on the city to restore the statue, which has deteriorated over the years.
The city has long said that it doesn’t have the money to restore the statue. Step in the descendants of Frederick MacMonnies, who have said that they will pay to have the statue restored with one caveat: that it be moved to Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery, where several family members of the sculptor are buried.
Kudos to the MacMonnies family for stepping up and doing what the city should have done a long time ago, namely caring for this great work of public art.
And Green-Wood Cemetery – if the city has to move it – would be a fitting place for the statue, not only because it is the final resting place of members of the MacMonnies family, but because it is home to so many other great works of art. The Triumph of Civic Virtue would be right at home.
You know a place that doesn’t have so many great works of art? Queens.
Sure, Flushing Meadows Corona Park has several notable objects left over from the World’s Fair, but the history of Queens is slowly disappearing. The city even took its bridge away.
And it’s not like this only became an issue when the city decided to move the statue; people in the borough have been advocating on behalf of the Triumph of Civic Virtue and calling for its restoration for years.
And the people who live in the statue’s shadow don’t take offense to it. The local community board has given its full support to restoring the sculpture and keeping it right where it is.
Since it was finished in 1920, the Triumph of Civic Virtue has stood at the center of so many different controversies, which makes its history all the more rich.
It should also continue to stand on Queens Boulevard.