The Giuseppe Garibaldi Statue at Washington Square Park was moved last week from its position facing west (looking toward the fountain, his back was to Washington Square East). The Garibaldi Statue was designed by Giovanni Turini and erected in 1888. It was refurbished once but not moved (hard to find info on that but there was a plaque outlining it at the Park – American Express financed it at the time).
Some background on the Garibaldi statue from Emily Kies Folpe in her book, It Happened on Washington Square below. Interesting note that Garibaldi was approached by Abraham Lincoln at the start of the Civil War to command a Union army corps. In response, one of Garibaldi’s stipulations was that Lincoln commit to abolishing slavery. This was not agreed to. Garibaldi declined.
The historic Italian presence around the Square accounts for the great bronze statue standing east of the fountain — the figure of Giuseppe Garibaldi, commander of the insurrectionary forces in Italy’s struggle for unification. Garibaldi was one of the greatest guerrilla generals in history and the most popular Italian patriot of his time. After fighting for Giuseppe Mazzini’s short-lived Roman Republic, he sought asylum in the United States where he lived for two years on Staten Island. Returning to his homeland in 1851, he led his red-shirted volunteer army on campaigns that helped bring about a unified Italy twenty years later.
At Garibaldi’s death in 1882, the Italo-Americano newspaper opened a subscription list to raise funds for a monument honoring the general. Public sculpture was one of the most popular art forms of the nineteenth century, and it was customary then for communities to decorate parks and plazas with commemorative statues of political, military, and cultural heroes. Garibaldi’s appeal was such that contributions ranging from five cents to thousands of dollars rapidly poured in from across the country.
On June 4, 1888, the sixth anniversary of Garibaldi’s death, the monument was unveiled in the park.
The Garibaldi statue had been facing west and honestly I have to remember where he is going now! Right now, he’s facing north but I have to confirm whether that’s the direction – and location – in which he will remain.
More on Phase II to come.