De Witt Clinton

  • Sculptor: Adolph A. Weinman
  • Dedicated: 1941
  • Medium and size: Nickel silver (8 feet)
  • Location: Museum of the City of New York, Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street
  • Subway: 6 to 103rd Street
Clinton

The Erie Canal

In a memorial volume prepared for the Canal’s dedication in 1825, William L. Stone proclaimed that the builders of the Erie "have built the longest canal, in the least time, with the least experience, for the least money, and to the greatest public benefit." Forty feet wide at the surface, 4 feet deep, with 83 locks along its 323-mile length, the Erie Canal was a marvel of engineering, and became not only a prime commercial route but a popular tourist attraction.

Occasionally widened or deepened, the canal remained in use through the Civil War, then declined as traffic switched to railroads – which could go far more places, and weren’t blocked when temperatures dropped below freezing. 

Adolph A. Weinman

Weinman (1870-1952), a German, moved to the United States at age ten, studied at the Cooper Union, and trained with Philip Martiny, Augustus Saint Gaudens, and Daniel Chester French. One of his most notable works is General Alexander Macomb in Detroit; he also did the designs for the Walking Liberty half-dollar (minted 1916-1947) and the Winged Liberty (Mercury) dime (minted 1916-1945). New York City has:

  • Samuel Rea
  • Alexander Hamilton and De Witt Clinton at the Museum of the City of New York
  • Civic Fame, on the Municipal Building at Chambers St.
  • John Purroy Mitchel Memorial, Fifth Avenue at East 90th Street
  • Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument, Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn
  • Mayor William Jay Gaynor, Cadman Plaza, Brooklyn 

Cross References

  • Clinton’s companion on the facade of the Museum of the City of New York is Alexander Hamilton, who has 4 other outdoor sculptures in Manhattan, including one in Central Park and one near Hamilton Grange.
  • The Louisiana Purchase is discussed in the episode on Jefferson.
  • Vanderbilt’s railroad ran along the line of the Erie Canal.
  • Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan has a comparison of this sculpture of Clinton with 2 others in New York, more on the Erie Canal, and an excerpt from a folk song about the canal.

Copyright (c) 2013 Dianne L. Durante