Fort Greene’s Civil War hero must do an about-face if he wants to fit in with the neighborhood, some residents say.
Martin Horowitz is urging the city to rotate a statue of Gen. Edward Fowler about 90 degrees so that he’ll properly greet oncoming traffic from his perch at the intersection of Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Street.
Right now, the Civil War hero lovingly called “Dear Old Ned” looks straight at Frank’s Cocktail Lounge and an adjacent empty lot. In the summer, his head is hidden in the trees, making it hard for passersby to pay tribute to the namesake of the tiny green space known as Fowler Square.
“It may sound frivolous, but there’s something wrong with the way the statue is faced,” said Horowitz, who has lived near the general’s effigy for almost 40 years and wants to see the statue turned to look out toward Downtown.
“It’s idiotic, and I thought so from the beginning.”
The bronze likeness of the Bull Run and Gettysburg fighter originally stood in Fort Greene Park, before vandals forced the city to put him in storage sometime in the 1960s. A decade later, community members rallied to install the statue at the triangle park, which was then known as Lafayette Square.
Fort Greene activist Ruth Goldstein said that city officials thought Gen. Fowler would face the most traffic and sunlight in his current position. At the time, residents didn’t oppose the statue’s orientation because they were happy the city was trying to transform an asphalt no-man’s land where drugs and prostitution ran rampant into a plaza, she claims.
“He would look better facing the apex of the triangle today, to be a greeter for the neighborhood,” she said.
The city is planning on giving the brigadier swanky new digs, thanks to a controversial proposal that would close one block of S. Elliott Place to traffic, potentially bolstering Fowler Square’s appeal as a pedestrian plaza.
But a Parks Department spokeswoman said city has no plans to rotate Gen. Fowler, claiming such work could damage the statue or its pedestal.
“Changing a statue’s orientation is quite a bit more complicated and costly than people might think,” she said.
This isn’t the first time locals have rallied for statuary U-turns. Last fall, historian Richard Kessler was outraged that a 140-year-old statue of Abraham Lincoln would be installed in Grand Army Plaza facing the “wrong” way: south.
Horowitz believes turning Fowler is a “common sense” campaign worth waging.
“I don’t think it’s all that silly,” he said. “You can’t even see the guy.”
Reach Kate Briquelet at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her at (718) 260-2511.