Lost Triumphal Arches of New York

Several triumphal arches were erected in New York City for public celebrations. It’s hard to imagine that most of them were temporary, standing only for short periods of time. Perhaps it’s symbolic of New York,  the agile and ever-changing metropolis, to build such grandiose structures only to be destroyed.

Three temporary arches in New York were built to celebrate George Washington’s Centennial as the first president of the United States. All were located on 5th Avenue: one – below 26th Street, another on 23rd Street, and the last one on Washington Square North. Only the latter one was rebuilt in marble form and still stands as the Washington Square Arch.

The Dewey and Victory Arches, built later, were located on 5th Ave around 24th Street. Interestingly, two of the Washington Centennial arches, the Dewey Arch, and the Victory Arch were located pretty much in the same place – the Madison Square area between 23rd and 26th Streets on 5th Avenue.

1. Washington’s Centennial Arch on Fifth Avenue at 26th Street, 1889.

downloaWashington's Centennial arch and parade on Fifth Avenue at 26th Street, April 30, 1889.d
Washington’s Centennial arch and parade on Fifth Avenue at 26th Street, April 30, 1889. Source: N-YHS

2. Washington’s Centennial Arch on 5th Avenue and Washington Square North. Architect: Stanford White, 1889.

This arch proved to be very popular and was re-constructed by Stanford White in marble. It still graces Washington Square Park as the Washington Square Arch.

The Washington Arch of New York
The Washington Arch of New York, a clipping, 1889 Source: NYPL Digital Collections
Washington Arch model (wood and papier mache)
Washington Arch model (wood and papier mache), 1889 Source: The NYPL Digital Collection

3.  The Dewey Arch at the intersection of  Fifth Avenue and Broadway at 24th Street. Architect: Charles R. Lamb, 1899.

The arch was built in 1899 for the Admiral Dewey parade in September 1899. It was destroyed in 1900.

Dewey Memorial Arch, Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street, New York, 1899.
Dewey Memorial Arch, Fifth Avenue, and 23rd Street, New York, 1899. Source: N-YHS Digital Collections
Dewey Arch at Madison Square on Fifth Avenue, viewed from the southwest, 1899.
Dewey Arch at Madison Square on Fifth Avenue, viewed from the southwest, 1899. Stanford White’s towered Madison Square Garden in the background. Source: N-YHS Digital Collections
Parade, Dewey Arch
Photo taken after the triumphal parade of September 20, 1899 celebrating the victory in the Spanish-American War. Photo from the Byron Collection, Museum of the City of New York.
Cyclists looking at the Dewey Arch, Madison Square, New York City, September 30, 1899.
Cyclists looking at the Dewey Arch, Madison Square, New York City, September 30, 1899. Source: N-YHS Digital Collections

4. The Victory Arch at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway between 24th and 25th Streets. Architect: Thomas Hastings, 1918.

The Victory Arch was built to welcome home troops returning from World War I. It was built in 1918 and destroyed in 1920.

Victory Arch and Flatiron Bldg.
Victory Arch and Flatiron Bldg., c1919. Irving Underhill. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Victory Arch, Madison Square and 25th St., New York City
Victory Arch, Madison Square and 25th St., New York City Creator(s): Underhill, Irving,  Date Created/Published: c1919 May 31.
Manhattan: 5th Avenue - 25th Street
Manhattan: 5th Avenue – 25th Street, 1919 Underhill, Irving (d. 1960) (Photographer) Source: NYPL Digital Collections

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