Abraham De Peyster Statue


Mayor Abraham De Peyster (1657–1728) was born in New Amsterdam, now known as Manhattan. De Peyster came from a prosperous mercantile family. He was influential in the young city; he had many positions, including Alderman, Dutch Mayor, member of the King`s Council, and acting Governor. By the end of his life, De Peyster was allegedly one of the city`s wealthiest inhabitants. The sculpture has moved around several times in lower Manhattan. He among other things, donated the land for the original City Hall, which later became Federal Hall.

Installed, 1896

Commissioned in the late 1800s by one of De Peyster’s great-great-great-grandsons, the seated solemn figure was created by the sculptor George Edwin Bissell. But no sooner had work begun on a foundation for the statue in Battery Park than it became the target of criticism and the city had to look for a new location.“The sentiment which promotes the erection of the statue to Abraham De Pey­ster is altogether commendable,” the New York Times wrote in spring of 1895. “But Battery Park is not the place for the effigy. There is no room for it. We have gone too far in the park statuary already.”Over yet other objections, the statue went to Bowling Green in 1896. (“Bowling Green is such a historic spot,” the president of the National Sculpture So­ciety told the Times, “that the question naturally arises why it is not reserved for some artistic group, rather than merely a portrait statue.”)But after only a short time in Bowling Green, De Peyster was donated to Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania. (Ac­cording to the school’s website, it was a controversy over the scale and location of the statue that forced the move.) A slightly smaller replica was fabricated and placed back in the park. It stayed for 76 years. But in 1972, Bowling Green underwent a major renovation and it was decided that De Peyster had to go.

Moved, 1972

Then rested in Hanover Square. Atop a new pedestal, he stood there until 2004, when the Parks Department turned the site into the British Memorial Garden. This time, he had no place to go but storage.

Moved, 2004

It was removed and put into storage to make room for the British Memorial Garden.

Moved, 2009

It is currently in Thomas Paine Park.


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