Bennett Memorial

  • Also known as the Bell Ringers' Monument
  • Sculptor: Antonin Jean Paul Carles
  • Architect: Aymar Embury II
  • Erected: 1895; this setting 1940
  • Medium and size: Bronze (approximately 10 feet), later granite niche (approximately 30 feet)
  • Location: Herald Square, intersection of Sixth Avenue and Broadway between 34th and 35th Streets
  • Subway: B, D, F, N, Q, R, V, W to 34 Street - Herald Square

Bennett Memorial

Home of the New York Herald

The Herald Building, designed by Stanford White in the style of a Renaissance palazzo, was completed in 1895. Harper’s Weekly applauded the effect:

Architecturally, the new home of the Herald is a rebuke to the utilitarianism of the American metropolis, an appeal for something better than sky-scraping ugliness. ... The fascinating rush and whir of men and machinery late at night, when the place is ablaze with electric light, and the entire mechanical force is straining to get the paper printed in time for the early trains, will be one of the notable sights of New York while around the edge of the roof a row of twenty gilded owls will wink electric eyes at regular intervals by a mechanical device connected with the clock ... The presence of the owls is explained by the fact that the owl is a jolly fetich of Mr. Bennett's, and is to be seen in every part of his private establishment - stuffed owls, bronze owls, painted owls, iron owls - on his yachts, his carriages, his note-paper, his coaches in various parts of France, and in his many residences. The bird that is awake and alert when all else is asleep is not a bad emblem for the Herald. (Harper's Weekly, 9/2/1893)


Above: Photos usually show the Herald Building in stately grandeur:

Herald Square

Above: A wider shot shows the two-story Herald Building dwarfed by the Sixth Avenue El, completed in the 1870s, whose noise must have often overpowered even the noise of the presses in the Herald's basement.

In a city already bristling with skyscrapers, the 2-story Herald Building was a throwback and, worse yet, an incredibly inefficient use of increasingly expensive Manhattan real estate.

Lower Manhattan 1915

Above: Lower Manhattan ca. 1915

The Herald Building was barely a quarter century old when it was demolished in 1921. On its site stand a nondescript 2-story building and a nondescript skyscraper. 

Bennett's Owl Memorial

James Gordon Bennett, Jr., was wealthy enough to indulge his fetishes. His most extravagant scheme was a 125-foot sculpture of an owl on a 75-foot base.

Bennett Owl Memorial

The owl was to roost in Washington Heights, where it would loom over the tomb of Ulysses S. Grant, whom Bennett despised. A winding staircase would have allowed visitors to gaze downtown through the owl's eyes. Bennett's coffin was to be suspended from chains inside the owl's head. Think Statue of Liberty meets Tales from the Crypt.

Unfortunately for those of us who enjoy eccentric monuments and panoramic views, Bennett interpreted architect Stanford White's 1906 murder as an evil omen, and abandoned the project. 

Cross References

Copyright (c) 2013 Dianne L. Durante