Mind the arch!
The area beneath Grand Army Plaza’s Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch will be off limits to locals until after a massive restoration of the monument wraps sometime in 2021, due to risk of falling debris, according to stewards of Brooklyn’s Backyard.
“At this point, the barricades are expected to remain in place until the restoration of the arch is completed,” said Deborah Kirschner, a spokeswoman for meadow conservancy the Prospect Park Alliance.
Alliance workers cordoned off the area beneath the 126-year-old arch after a small piece of mortar roughly two-inches long fell from the monument last December, Kirschner said.
The rubble did not hit anyone, but park keepers still chose to restrict access to the arch out of “an abundance of caution,” according to the spokeswoman, who said nothing has fallen since the first piece of mortar.
Alliance leaders plan to kick off a their year-long, $9-million restoration of the Civil War memorial in 2020, which includes repairing stonework throughout the ancient arch, as well as replacing its rooftop observation deck and fixing the iron staircase leading to it.
Following the city-funded repairs, locals will be able to enter the arch for the first time since leaders of the Puppet Museum that formerly occupied space inside it moved their institution to Brooklyn College in 2010.
The restoration project also calls for sprucing up the pavement around the arch, and installing landscaping and lights around the plaza’s Bailey Fountain.
Workers last repaired the arch, which turns 127-years-old on Oct. 21, in 1980, seven years after the city designated the structure a landmark, and roughly four years after the statue of Columbia — a goddess-like figure symbolizing the United States — fell from its sculpted chariot atop the monument in 1976.