Landmarks,  Streetscapes

Grand Army Plaza – A New York City Scenic Landmark

Grand Army Plaza in Manhattan is one of those places that can become a part of your life without even knowing its name. At the entrance to Central Park and across from the Plaza Hotel, it’s a perfect place to meet a longtime friend from out of town or connect with a local to take a walk. But did you ever think about the history of this popular spot and how it came to be?

Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza

Not to be confused with Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza is the historic two-block square known as Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza. Located west of Fifth Avenue, between 58th and 60th streets, this bustling area is well worth a visit.  

Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza pays tribute to a bygone era. It is named after the Grand Army of Potomac, which is what the Union Army was called during the Civil War. The city’s design was a significant undertaking in the early 20th century.  On the northern end, a gold statue is mounted on a horse. Erected in 1903, it is salutes William Tecumseh Sherman, a Union General in the Civil War. The southern end was redesigned in 1916 and is directly across from the Plaza Hotel. It contains the Pulitzer Fountain, named after the publisher Joseph Pulitzer. The fountain is crowned with a bronze figure of the Roman goddess Pomona. According to the Central Park Conservancy website, the baskets of fruit held by the goddess symbolize abundance.

1974 the Landmarks Preservation Commission identified Grand Army Plaza as a New York City scenic landmark. It has been renovated and restored several times over the years. Positioned next to iconic buildings such as Bergdorf Goodman and the Plaza Hotel as well as modern buildings such as Apple Fifth Avenue, it interests to NYC residents and tourists alike. 

Lombard Lamp – South East Corner of Central Park

To the left of Grand Army Plaza, stands the Lombard Lamp. It is one of two lamps donated to US cities in 1979 by the German town of Hamburg. (The other Lombard Lamp was provided to its sister city, Chicago). The lamp is a copy of the streetlights on the Lombard Bridge in Hamburg, Germany. The ornate lamp has five globes and a base decorated with cherubs and garlands. 

The lamp is a symbol of friendship. According to Kevin Walsh, author of “Forgotten New York” (Harper Collins, 2006), the lamps get their name from the word ‘Langobars’ or ‘people with long beards’, a Germanic tribe from medieval times.  

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