Astor Family Protected From the Gaze of Abraham Lincoln

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Photo: prospectpark.org

In 1869, the nation's first Lincoln memorial, a bronze statue sculpted by H.K. Brown, was placed in Grand Army Plaza facing north, according to the wishes of Prospect Park's designer, Frederick Law Olmsted. But in 1896, for reasons unclear, it was relocated to Concert Grove inside Prospect Park. Now, over a a century later, the city is set to return the statue to Grand Army Plaza once again. And yet, as literally one person has noticed, the relocation effort will hardly be historically accurate: This time, Lincoln will face south. This matters, says that one person, historian Richard Kessler.

As the Brooklyn Paper reports:


“It’s highly symbolic,” said history buff neighbor Richard Kessler. “This is not how [park designers] envisioned it.” ....

Kessler’s amply footnoted theory suggests that the towering copper statue was positioned north to face the home of Manhattan’s wealthy Astor family, which hated Lincoln’s anti-slavery agenda. The goal was to show that Honest Abe wasn’t scared to confront his powerful enemies head-on.

Why would city officials ignore such an important component of this memorial? Logistical reasons, they say, but of course that's not it. Everyone knows the Astors still run this town. Congratulations, Astors, you win again. You always do.

What an affront! City will install Lincoln statue the ‘wrong’ way [Brooklyn Paper]