Everything You Need To Know Before Visiting Grand Army Plaza



Grand Army Plaza is the main entrance of Brooklyn’s flagship park: Prospect Park. It marks the beginning of the world’s first parkway, the Eastern Parkway and was originally designed to connect the city’s parks with decorative roads free of commercial traffic. The streets are designed in concentric oval rings with the namesake Plaza Street comprising the outer ring. Keep reading to learn more about the history of Grand Army Plaza, its monuments and highlights, get answers to the most frequently asked questions about The Plaza, and reviews from real visitors!


About the Grand Army Plaza


Grand Army Plaza was originally designed by Calvert Vaux. He thought The Plaza was a vital design element that would offer a beautiful welcome to visitors of Prospect Park—it was even the first feature of the park built.


Once the New York State Legislature authorized the city of Brooklyn to begin selecting sites for public parks to be made, construction of Grand Army Plaza began in 1865. However, there were a number of times over the years that caused construction of the park to be stalled, like during the Civil War and during the economic panic of 1873. There have also been times when reconstruction took place: in 1915, 1928, 1980 and a $9 million arch restoration project was given the green light in 2018.


To learn more about the rich history and changes to the Grand Army Plaza over the years, Ask a Guide.


Highlights


Aside from the beautiful architecture and scenic landscapes, you’ll find historic monuments at Grand Army Plaza. When you visit Grand Army Plaza, make sure you stop by these six areas of interest.



General Henry Warner Slocum Statue


Monument of General Henry Warner Slocum via NYC Gov Parks





Location: East Plaza Street, east of Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch

Sculptor: Frederick William MacMonnies

Architect: Stanford White

Description: This 17-foot pink Milford granite statue features Major General Henry Warner Slocum riding on a horse during battle.

Cast: ca. 1905

Dedicated: May 30, 1905

Foundry: E. Gruet

Donor: Brooklyn City Legislature



Henry Warner Slocum, Sr. (September 24, 1827 – April 14, 1894), was a Union general during the American Civil War and later served in the United States House of Representatives from New York. During the war, he was one of the youngest major generals in the army and fought numerous major battles in the Eastern Theater, Georgia and the Carolinas. Learn more about Henry Warner Slocum here.



General Gouverneur Kemble Warren Statue


Wally Gobetz / CC BY 2.0


Location: West of the Arch on sidewalk near Union Street

Sculptor: Henry Baerer

Description: This 17’6” statue made of bronze and Conway green granite features the standing figure of Major General Gouverneur Kemble Warren.

Cast: 1893

Dedicated: June 26, 1896 (most recent)

Foundry: Henry-Bonnard Bronze Co. New York

Donor: G.K.Warren Post #286, N.Y. Department of the G.A.R.


Gouverneur Kemble Warren (January 8, 1830 – August 8, 1882) was an American civil engineer and Union Army general during the American Civil War. He is best remembered for bringing the Union a battle victory with his last-minute defense at Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg. His fast-thinking and the following victory earned him the nickname "Hero of Little Round Top."


Unfortunately, General Warren's subsequent service as a corps commander and his remaining military career were ruined during the Battle of Five Forks when Philip Sheridan relieved him of command of the V Corps on the spotSheridan claimed that Warren moved his Corps too slowly.


After the war, Warren resigned his commission as a major general in protest to Sheridan’s actions and spent the rest of his career attempting to exonerate his name. A board of inquiry was finally called in 187914 years after he was relieved of commandand it was found that Sheridan wasn't justified in relieving Warren during the battle. You can read more about Gouverneur Kemble Warren here.



Dr. Alexander Skene Statue


David Shankbone / CC BY-SA


Location: Against an earth bank to the southeast of the main plaza ellipse between Vanderbilt and Flatbush Avenues

Sculptor: John Massey Rhind

Architect: M.L. and H.G. Emery

Description: Bronze and white Vermont marble sculpture bust of Alexander Johnston Chalmers Skene, M.D.

Cast: ca. 1905

Dedicated: 1905



Alexander Johnston Chalmers Skene was a Brooklyn-based physician, medical researcher, and college and hospital administrator. He was urged not to pursue a medical career in Brooklyn but he ignored those suggestions and ultimately became nationally and internationally recognized as an influential medical figure based on his contributions to the medical field.


Skene was the founder of International Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics, co-founder of the American Gynecological Society, wrote over 100 medical articles and several textbooks. He contributed many surgical instruments and improved on surgical techniques. He also performed the first successful gastro-elytrotemy and craniotomy operations ever recorded. You can learn more about Dr. Skene at The Skene Memorial Library.



Henry Maxwell Memorial


Garry R. Osgood / CC BY-SA


Location: Plaza Street and St. Johns Place

Sculptor: Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Albert Jaegers

Description: A 4’3 plaque made of bronze and granite with bas-relief roundel on an eight foot high boulder. This memorial is a replica of the original which has been moved to the Brooklyn Museum.

Cast: 1996

Dedicated: June 25, 1996 (most recent)

Fabricator: Modern Art Foundry

Donor: David Schwartz Foundation



This tablet memorial honors Henry W. Maxwell, a Brooklyn-based banker, philanthropist and supporter of public education. He donated money to several local charities and organizations, including the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, the Home for Destitute Children, and Long Island College Hospital. He also financially supported the construction of Memorial Industrial School No. 2.


It was estimated that during his lifetime, Henry Maxwell donated over $300,000 per year to charity and all without public knowledge or acknowledgement. For more information about Henry W. Maxwell, you can read an article about the tremendous impact he secretly had in Brooklyn in this article from the Brownstoner.



Bailey Fountain


Phil Roeder / CC BY 2.0


Location: North side of Grand Army Plaza

Sculptor: Eugene F. Savage

Architect: Edgerton Swarthout; H. Craig Severance (advisor)

Description: Six bronze heroic scaled figures, three standing and three reclined, inside a basin with rock-work coping. Around 25 feet high.

Cast: 1931

Dedicated: 1932

Donor: Frank and Mary Louise Bailey



This fountain was funded by philanthropist Frank Bailey as a memorial to his wife in 1929. The fountain was completed in 1932. The fountain features bronze male and female sculptures aboard the prow of a ship, representing Wisdom and Felicity, surrounded by Neptune, his attendant Triton, and a boy holding a cornucopia. The Bailey Fountain was fully rehabilitated in 1956 and again in 2005. The fountain is a popular gathering spot and has served as a sought-after backdrop for wedding photos.


Frank Bailey was a Brooklyn-based financier, philanthropist, and avid horticulturist. His autobiography, “It Can’t Happen Here Again: The Life Story of a Self-Made Man," was published in 1945 by Alfred A. Knopf (ASIN B0007E41VS).



John F. Kennedy Statue


Opencooper / CC0


Sculptor: Neil Estern

Description: 7'4 bronze and Regal Grey granite bust on pedestal

Cast: 2010

Dedicated: May 31, 1965

Foundry: Beacon Fine Art Foundry



This monument honors John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), the thirty-fifth President of the United States. After his assassination on November 22, 1963, the Brooklyn Borough President, Abe Stark, proposed that a monument be erected in his honor. The monument was unveiled in a ceremony held on May 31, 1965. Attending were the president's brother Robert F. Kennedy, Mayor Robert F. Wagner and Borough President Stark, among other notable figures.


John F. Kennedy’s daughter wrote, “I hope everyone who passes this memorial will reflect on his words ‘Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,’ and consider how we can all contribute our talent and energy to the betterment of the nation."



Gallery


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FAQ


These are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about visiting Grand Army Plaza.



Do you need to book in advance to visit Grand Army Plaza?


Grand Army Plaza is the main entrance to Prospect Park, a public park open to all. If you’d like to book a pedicab tour of Grand Army Plaza, you should book in advance to secure your spot. Our Classic, Deluxe, Economic, and VIP tours all include stops at Grand Army Plaza.


What's the best way to see Grand Army Plaza?


The best way to tour Grand Army Plaza depends on you and the group you’re traveling with. Popular ways to visit The Plaza are walking and bus tours but for hassle-free guided tours that allow you to be fully immersed in places buses can’t go or for visiting more areas of interest when you’re feet are just too tired to keep going, pedicab tours are an excellent choice!


What hotels are near Grand Army Plaza?


There are several hotels near Grand Army Plaza—over 100! To make things easier, you can use this free tool to check out which hotels are closest to our pickup point. When you book a tour with us, we can meet you right at the pickup location or we can come get you from any hotel located within five blocks of the pickup spot. If you aren't sure whether we can pick you up, just give us a call.


What restaurants are near Grand Army Plaza?


You’ll find that there are a ton of dining options near Grand Army Plaza. Are you in the mood for pizza, Mexican, sushi, or a cup of coffee? Regardless of what you’d like to eat and drink when you get here, there are several options only steps away. Here’s a list of the top restaurants near Grand Army Plaza with reviews, images and more.


I’m confused, are there two Grand Army Plazas?


Grand Army Plaza is located in the northern corner and main entrance to Prospect Park. There is also another Grand Army Plaza located in the southeast corner of Central Park in Manhattan. Before the merging of the boroughs there were several streets that shared the same names, however, the two Grand Army Plazas were named after the merger. Both were named to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the foundation of the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization of Union Army veterans who served during the American Civil War. Both squares have equestrian statues of civil war generals, and both have fountains.


Will Coronavirus (COVID-19) affect my travel to Grand Army Plaza?


At this time, city parks are open. We ask that all park goers take extra precautions to stay healthy and safe. While solo exercise is okay, team sports (such as basketball, football, softball, and soccer) are not permitted at this time. Please maintain at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others when outside and avoid congregating in groups.


Park restrooms are open and are being cleaned daily with appropriate cleaning products to ensure that they are being fully disinfected. Restrooms located within city playgrounds are closed until further notice.


For more information about coronavirus and a guide on how to stay safe, please visit http://nyc.gov/coronavirus or text COVID to 692-692 to receive regular SMS texts with the latest news and developments from Notify NYC.


What is the cheapest way to get from Times Square to Grand Army Plaza?


The cheapest way to get from Times Square to Grand Army Plaza is to walk. It’s a 19-minute walk and it’s free.


Reviews


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