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In the early 1900s, renowned sculptor Daniel Chester French was asked to create “two allegorical figures,” a Miss Manhattan and a Miss Brooklyn, to stand at the Brooklyn entrance to the Manhattan Bridge. The granite women were removed, however, in the 1960s when Robert Moses decided to move them. They were then relocated to their current home at the Brooklyn Museum’s entrance, but after a 10-year, $450,000 project, a resin replica of the original has returned to the bridge. As the Times tells us, sculptor and installation artist Brian Tolle (he’s also responsible for the Irish Hunger Memorial) designed the new version to glow at night with interior LED lights and rotate “on two lamppost-like arms.”
“Miss Manhattan” by Daniel Chester French. It was originally alongside the Manhattan Bridge, but was moved to the entrance of the Brooklyn Museum. Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.
Daniel Chester French would become famous for creating the gigantic Abram Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial. For the Manhattan Bridge works he turned to Audrey Munson, who, as 6sqft previously profiled, was once the most famous artist’s model in the country. She served as the stand-in for so many statues across the city–including “Beauty” at the New York Public Library and “Civic Fame,” the 25-foot statue atop the Manhattan Municipal Building–that she became known as Miss Manhattan. And in the early 1900s, her moniker took on a new meaning when she was the inspiration for both bridge statues.
Robert Moses removed the Misses since he felt they were in the way from him adding more traffic lanes when he extended Flatbush Avenue. But once this area around Tillary Street and Flatbush became more residential, the idea to replace the statues came about. The project was commissioned by the city’s Percent for Art program and was funded by the Economic Development Corporation.
— NYC DOT (@NYC_DOT) December 23, 2016
Tolle was selected through a design competition and worked on the supportive steelwork with Josh Young, who has a foundry in Gowanus. The Department of Transportation decided to set the statues back from the bridge entrance so as not to distract drivers. But as Wendy Feuer, the DOT’s assistant commissioner for urban design, art and wayfinding, explained to the Times, “This will be something new, but you’ll see it from far away, so it’s not like you’re in a tunnel and coming out and suddenly come upon it. You’ll see it in the distance and then go by it.” They were installed this morning.
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Neighborhoods : Downtown Brooklyn