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NYC Parks Department Works To Restore Damaged Statues

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Many of the statues in New York City are missing parts, most of which have been stolen over the years.

But as CBS 2’s Diane Macedo reported, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has launched a new effort to restore statues with missing pieces to their former glory.

Web Extra: Parks Dept. Permanent Art and Monuments

“We feel it’s a responsibility of our time to preserve the things that were put up before us,” said Jonathan Kuhn, director of Art & Antiquities for the city Department of Parks and Recreation. “We’ve been conserving numerous sculptures, historic and contemporary also. And sometimes they’re missing things.”

One example is Kuhn’s newest undertaking. The statues of General Warren in Grand Army Plaza and General Porter in Van Cortlandt Park, which have each been missing a sword for decades.

“Those were thefts I’m afraid, probably for the metal value which, by the way, is very little,” he said.

New York City Parks Department statue missing sword (Credit: CBS 2)

New York City Parks Department statue missing sword (Credit: CBS 2)

Still, Kuhn said the thefts were especially popular in the 1970s, as demonstrated by the sculpture of the Highbridge Doughboy, which was vandalized so badly the city removed it entirely, Macedo reported.

“Somebody bashed in its helmet, the musket was stolen, the honor rolls were stolen from the pedestal,” Kuhn said.

In some cases, the thieves didn’t even hold on to their haul.

When the ugly duckling statue was stolen from Central Park, “it turned up in a paper bag in the parking lot of Shea Stadium,” Kuhn said.

But as the crime rate improved, so did the effort to undo some of the damage, Macedo reported.

“These missing pieces should be replaced,” said Bronx resident Sandy Taylor.

“If it was meant to have a sword, it should have a sword,” said Brooklyn resident Andre Marioutine.

Kuhn said the parks department is making progress.

“The Highbridge Doughboy is now basically the only statue left in our storage compound. When I came here, I think we had 12,” he said.

As for the swords, Kuhn said he’s still working on securing enough funding to complete the project, but once that hurdle is cleared he expects they’ll be ready in about four to eight weeks, Macedo reported.

Those swords are expected to cost between $3,000 and $5,000 each and will be funded by a combination of the public and private contributions.

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