William Earl Dodge

  • Sculptor: John Quincy Adams Ward
  • Pedestal: the original, by Richard Morris Hunt, has been destroyed.
  • Dedicated: 1885
  • Medium and size: Bronze (7.5 feet), granite pedestal (6.5 feet)
  • Location: North side of Bryant Park, just south of 42nd Street and east of Sixth Avenue. Subway: B, D, F, V to 42nd Street - Bryant Park


Water and Temperance

This cartoon promoting temperance (by Nathaniel Currier, ca. 1846) crams a remarkable amount of polemics into a small space.

Drunkard's Progress

Above: The Drunkard’s Progress, from the first glass to the grave. Step 1: A glass with a friend. Step 2: A glass to keep the cold out. Step 3: A glass too much. Step 4: Drunk and riotous. Step 5: The summit attained. Jolly companions. A confirmed drunkard. Step 6: Poverty and disease. Step 7: Forsaken by Friends. Step 8: Desperation and crime. Step 9: Death by suicide.

Until the Croton Aqueduct brought a large supply of fresh water into Manhattan in 1842, drinking alcohol would often have been better for one’s health than drinking New York water. The Bethesda Fountain in Central Park (a.k.a. Angel of the Waters), unveiled in 1873, is a belated celebration of the aqueduct; the cherubs above the fountain basin represent Purity, Health, Peace ... and Temperance.

The consequence for firefighters of not having access to large supplies of running water is discussed in more detail in the Firemen’s Memorial. The Croton Aqueduct was completed less than a decade after the disastrous Great Fire of 1835, which destroyed 600 buildings in 20 square blocks. 

Where Should the Grass Grow?

Perhaps Dodge's most famous moment was as a foil to Lincoln in 1860, just before the outbreak of the Civil War. As told in Gotham: A History of New York City:

William E. Dodge, industrialist and financier, explained that New Yorkers were nervous about the position he [Lincoln] would take toward the South in his forthcoming inaugural, and wanted to know “whether the grass shall grow in the streets of our commercial cities.” Lincoln responded pleasantly that “if it depends on me, the grass will not grow anywhere except in the fields and meadows.” But when Dodge pressed him, asking if this meant he would yield to the demands of the South, Lincoln replied grimly that the Constitution must be “respected, obeyed, enforced, and defended, let the grass grow where it may.” – Burrows & Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, p. 865

John Quincy Adams Ward

John Quincy Adams Ward (1830-1910) was the leading American sculptor for fifty-odd years, known as the "Dean of American Sculpture." As a young man, he worked with Henry Kirke Brown on the Washington at Union Square, dedicated in 1856. Far earlier than his contemporaries, Ward believed American sculptors should present American ideas and be trained in America: he never studied abroad. Indian Hunter, 1869 (Central Park, near the Mall), established his reputation.

Manhattan has Washington, Greeley, Holley, Conkling, Dodge and Shakespeare, as well as the Seventh Regiment Memorial, 1869 (Central Park, West Drive at 67th Street) and the Pilgrim, 1885 (Central Park, east end of the 72nd St. Traverse). The original sculptures of the New York Stock Exchange pediment were Ward's, but they've been replaced with copies. Brooklyn has Henry Ward Beecher, 1891 (Columbus Park). 

Cross References

  • Contrasted with Dodge’s posture: Vanderbilt, Rea
  • Contrasted with Dodge’s scattershot accomplishments: Vanderbilt, Cooper, Clinton
  • The statue of Lincoln in Union Square was cast and placed largely through Dodge’s efforts.
  • Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan includes a fascinating quote from New York Mayor Abram S. Hewitt on the need for public portrait sculptures.

Copyright (c) 2013 Dianne L. Durante