Monday, September 07, 2015

Roadie: Grant's Tomb

Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia rest in red granite coffins in an open
crypt in the center of a circular gallery inside the memorial.(9/5/13)

Despite having visited frequently over the past three years, I am always excited by the fact that there are always new historical sites to explore when traveling to the Big Apple. While in New York City this weekend to take my stepson, Gregory, back for his junior year at Columbia, my wife and I took advantage of some down time to walk through Riverside Park and visit the General Grant National Memorial, more commonly known simply as Grant's Tomb. Designed by architect John Duncan, the memorial is the largest mausoleum in North America; a fitting tribute to this significant American military mind and Eighteenth President of the United States (1869-1877).

Tucked away in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan, the structure has gone through a number of periods of disrepair and subsequent restoration, the most recent being in 1991. Each time a restoration has been done on the tomb, new artwork has been added, including the two eagle statues (one of which I am pictured with to the left). Like many historical monuments, Grant's Tomb has had it's share of controversy from the very beginning, when the New York locale was selected as the location of he and his wife's internment.

The pathway approaching the General Grant National Memorial. (9/5/13)
The memorial is a combination of several classical styles, its lower section
supporting a rotunda surrounded by Ionic columns and surmounted by a
conical dome. (9/5/15)
On the facade of the Tomb is the epitaph, "LET US HAVE PEACE," a quote
taken from Grant's acceptance of the Republican nomination for president. Allegorical figures
representing Victory and Peace (sculpted by J. Massey Rhind) are depicted on
either side of the sign, marking Grant's importance both in war and in peace.(9/5/13)
One of two eagle statues donated following the demolition 
of the old New York City Post Office. (9/5/13)
The effect of sunlight through the amber glass, which was originally
stained glass,  while creating a solemn mood, does make
some photography difficult.(9/5/13)
Four murals of the wars Grant fought are painted on the walls. (9/5/13)
Open crypt containing the sarcophagi of the general and his wife, Julia Dent Grant. (9/5/13)
The ceiling of the rotunda directly above the sarcophagi.(9/5/13)
Niches in the walls around the coffins contain busts of Grant's best
generals, including William Tecumseh Sherman. These were designed by
artists William Mues and Jeno Juszko. (9/5/13)
One of four pendentives in the interior of the Tomb are relief sculptures, 
also by Rhind, this one an allegorical representations of Grant's military life.(9/5/13)
This unplanned detour to Grant's Tomb was surprisingly peaceful. We arrived at opening and shared the entire monument with only a few other tourists who, like I, were taking pictures of the architecture. As tends to be the case with older structures, the beautiful late-summer day made for excellent lighting for exterior shots, but the interior was dim creating challenges for indoor pics. Photography aside, the suitably somber sepia tones seemed appropriate for the building's purpose.

General Grant National Parks Department handout
"Grant's Tomb" Wikipedia Page.

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