Integrity Presiding over the New York Stock Exchange

“Works of Man”, print by Frederick Mershimer

The group within the pediment over the New York Stock Exchange is entitled “Integrity Protecting the Works of Man,” which makes it fair to assume that the central female figure in the sculpture is Integrity herself. She is tasked with “Protecting the Works of Man”—with Industry on one side and Agriculture on the other. The sculptural composition was designed by John Quincy Adams Ward and originally carved out of marble.

The nude male figure on her right holding a gear shift symbolizes Mechanical Production. Next to him stands the International Trade figure, whose powerful hand rests on a ship’s wheel. Reclining and kneeling figures studying charts on the far right represent Intelligence and Science. On the left side of Integrity are figures personifying agriculture and celebrating the gifts of the earth. A nude male carrying a sack on his back and a female dressed in a skirt and a blouse both personify Agriculture. The two nude males examining a rock on the end represent Mining.

“Integrity Protecting the Works of Man” by John Quincy Adams Ward

The original “Integrity” of 1904, carved from marble and weighing 90 tons, proved to be too heavy and put enormous stress on the building. It might sound like a pun, but the disintegrating sculptural group presented the imminent threat to the general public of being crushed by pieces of crumbling Integrity.

The “Integrity Protecting the Works of Man” we see today is in fact a copy of the original made of hollow cooper and painted over to look like marble. The marble original composition was taken down in 1936 and replaced by the new, lighter one, which weighs only 10 tons.

Hopefully, the new, hollow Integrity protects the works of man as well as its solid marble predecessor did.

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