Garibaldi Uncloaked, Unscaffolded and Restored! Barring Last Minute Setbacks, Eastern End of Park to Open Soon

Garibaldi Now

Updated 5/26 – Poor Garibaldi Statue… he’s had a rough time — first moved from his original location, looking worn down, exposed to the elements, then covered in a gawdy blue cloak (for a long stretch) and, more recently, encased in scaffolding.

But now Garibaldi’s been uncloaked, cleaned, restored, re-patinized and unscaffolded and is looking quite dapper!

Which also signals that the eastern side of the park – Phase IIA – is set to open soon. Likely not “by Memorial Day” (which is Monday the 30th) as the Parks Department told Community Board 2 in early April but pretty close! I’m going with Tuesday or Wednesday next week at this moment. (Update 5/26: I’d be surprised if it is next week but we’ll see.) There could be setbacks and the city will want the fountain out from under repair at that point too (not certain how that’s going).

Just what was done to Garibaldi? Got the word in late March from the NYC Parks Department on what would be done to the 123 year old statue as he waited cloaked in blue; that entailed the Public Design Commission approving the “cleaning, patination, coating and restoration methodologies and procedures.”

cloaked in blue...

Who was Garibaldi? At the time the statue was moved from its previous location in April 2010, I reported on some history of Giuseppe Garibaldi:

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).

under scaffolding

Some background on the Garibaldi statue from Emily Kies Folpe in her book, It Happened on Washington Square. 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.

Previous Location During Construction

There was something nice about the previous location, coming from the fountain and encountering Garibaldi regally standing there, welcoming you into the eastern end of the park (admittedly, while also ready to draw his sword!). I imagine the designer wanted to open up the vista (as was done – and works – on the western side). I asked designer George Vellonakis to take me for a tour of the park before it opens so he could tell me in person what he had in mind but he declined.

We’ll know soon enough how the new design fits the newly refurbished park when Washington Square Park Redesign: Phase II opens on the eastern end after 20 months of construction. Stay tuned!

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For more interesting background on Garibaldi, visit New York City Statues.