Civic Virtue

Civic Virtue Triumphant Over Unrighteousness

Installed, 1922

Commissioned in 1915 by the city to create a sculpture for City Hall Park, he carved a 55-ton piece of marble into “Civic Virtue”: a figure of a strapping young man holding a sword while standing astride two beautiful women, who symbolized vice and corruption.This statue originally stood directly in front of City Hall in Manhattan.But even before the 22-foot statue was unveiled in the park in 1922, it was under fire. Women’s groups claimed it was demeaning to have virtue represented by a male figure, while women were equated with vice.MacMonnies found the argument ridiculous and blamed “literal” minded people who didn’t think allegorically. “Temptation is usually made feminine because only the feminine really attracts and tempts,” quoted the Times.Mayor Hylan thought it was “a travesty of good taste,” but the statue went up anyway, earning the nickname “Rough Guy” because of his naked, chiseled, somewhat caveman-like features.

Moved, Feb, 1941

Throughout the 1920s, petitions were filed to have Civic Virtue removed.Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia, who was mayor from 1934 to 1945, hated the sculpture. He called it "Fat Boy", and resented being confronted with the male figure's naked buttocks each day as he left City Hall.Finally gifted to Queens County in honor of the opening of its new Borough Hall. The statue has stood in the park next to Borough Hall since 1941.

Moved, Dec 17, 2012