Alexander Hamilton

  • Sculptor: Carl Conrads
  • Dedicated: 1880
  • Medium and size: Granite (10 feet), granite pedestal (9.5 feet)
  • Location: Central Park, 83rd Street and East Drive
  • Subway: 4, 5, 6 to 86th Street

Hamilton Central Park

Hamilton vs. Jefferson

James Turslow Adams neatly contrasts Hamilton with Jefferson:

It may be that without a vision men shall die. It is no less true that, without hard practical sense, they shall also die. Without Jefferson the new nation might have lost its soul. Without Hamilton it would assuredly have been killed in body. -- James Turslow Adams, Jeffersonian Principles and Hamiltonian Principles (1932), p. xvii  

Where This Sculpture Came From

The Hamilton in Central Park was offered to the City in 1880 by Hamilton's son John Church Hamilton, who devoted decades to writing a seven-volume biography of his father. The head was based on the 1790s Ceracchi bust of Hamilton, copies of which are preserved in the New-York Historical Society, the New York Public Library, the Museum of the City of New York, and Hamilton Grange. Conrads changed the close-cropped Roman-style hair of the original to a colonial-era queue and drilled the eyes to make the face livelier.

Although he had sculpted a bust of Napoleon, Ceracchi became disillusioned with him in 1800, when Napoleon overthrew the Directorate and named himself First Consul. Ceracchi became part of the plot of the Rue-Saint-Nicaise, in which an "infernal machine" was exploded on Christmas Eve, along the route Napoleon was taking to the opera. The bomb failed to kill Napoleon, but did kill many innocent bystanders. Ceracchi and several others were guillotined inn January 1801.

Hamilton Ceracchi 

Above: Copy of the Ceracchi bust of Hamilton at Hamilton Grange

Mass Transit Nightmare on Dedication Day

The New York Times described the trials of New Yorkers who wanted to see the unveiling of this sculpture in late November 1880:

Visitors who went up town in public conveyances to see the ceremony had a bleak time of it. The Third-avenue elevated road was the most convenient route, but, on account of the large fire in the Bowery, passengers from the lower part of the City were compelled to walk to Franklin-square or Chatham-square, take the Second-avenue line to Thirty-fourth-street, then take the Thirty-fourth-street branch across to Third-avenue, and take the Third-avenue train to Eighty-fourth-street. The Second-avenue cars were not heated, although it was the coldest day of the season, and the usual insolence of the employees was increased by the nipping frost. Arrived at the Park, these visitors were compelled to make a long detour to reach the statue, not being permitted by the extremely zealous Park Police to walk through a carriage drive that led straight to the spot. The 500 visitors were well muffled up, and they needed to be, for the wind swept the elevation like a hurricane. -- New York Times 11/23/1880

Cross References

Copyright (c) 2013 Dianne L. Durante