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May 11, 2018

History Lesson: A Trip Inside the East Coast Memorial

Battery Park has no shortage of historically significant monuments, many of which date back to the city’s founding days. Some structures are as epic to behold as the city itself, while others have a “blink and you’ll miss it” quality that must be sought out with intention. The East Coast Memorial falls somewhere in-between. It’s a stunning piece of architecture that evokes a quiet presence – a solemn, reflective spirit showcasing a subtle beauty. The monument is just a short walk from Wagner Battery Park and makes for a peaceful sojourn through history, or at the very least, a lovely spot to enjoy a coffee on a sunny day.

 

 

The East Coast Memorial faces the Statue of Liberty just across the New York Harbor at the southern end of Battery Park. The monument was built to honor the 4,601 missing American servicemen who lost their lives in the Atlantic Ocean during World War II. It was designed by the architecture firm Gehron and Seltzer and consists of a large paved plaza punctuated by eight 19-foot tall granite slabs – four on the northern side and four on the southern side. On each slab are inscribed the names, ranks, organization and home state of each of the deceased.

Perhaps the most captivating piece of the East Coast Memorial the monumental bronze eagle at the center, sculpted by artist Alibno Manca. It features a ferocious gaze as it swoops down to lay a wreath on the waves, thus signifying the act of mourning in the water. The monument was commissioned by the American Battle Monuments Commission, an agency of the executive branch of the United States Federal Government, and was dedicated by President John F. Kennedy on May 23, 1963. In a stroke of architectural genius, if you stand in the absolute center, you can see the Statue of Liberty through the slabs, in a beautiful metaphor of the fight for our nation’s tenants of justice, independence and freedom.