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Honest, Abe to return to Grand Army Plaza • Brooklyn Paper

Honest, Abe to return to Grand Army Plaza

Local activist Richard Kessler wants the Great Emancipator returned to his original home.
The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

Abe Lincoln will soon be back where he belongs.

Roughly 113 years after a towering statue of our 16th president was unceremoniously exiled from near the Soldiers and Sailors Arch in Grand Army Plaza, the monument will be returned to its rightful place, The Brooklyn Paper has learned.

With the bicentennial of the Great Emancipator’s birth just days away, a Prospect Park official revealed that the city intends to move the bronze likeness of Lincoln to a spot next to the arch, a monument for fallen Union combatants.

The statue was originally installed in Grand Army Plaza in 1869 — the first statue of Lincoln erected in the Union, according to the Parks Department.

Though it was the focal point of Memorial Day festivities for decades, it was exiled to an area near the lake deep inside Prospect Park in 1896.

“It’s in the wrong place. All you see is his back, because he’s facing the water,” said Prospect Park Alliance President Tupper Thomas. “He belongs in the Civil War monument [as he was] to begin with.”

The news of the relocation delighted Richard Kessler, a Park Slope artist who has been calling for Lincoln to be rehabilitated.

“This is a large step in making the plaza relevant to its history and to today’s political environment,” said Richard Kessler. “Now, that statue is buried deep in Prospect Park.”

Though Kessler’s right on the geography, he also has some lengthy conspiracy theories on his Web site as to why Lincoln was downgraded in the first place.

“Hayes had become president in 1877 on his promise to remove Union troops from the South, ending Reconstruction,” Kessler writes. “Brooklyn Park’s commissioners were replaced in 1882. In 1883, the Supreme Court reversed the Civil Rights Act of 1875. … In 1895, the Lincoln statue was buried deep inside the park.”

But soon, the historic wrong will be righted.

Thomas was unsure where the effigy will stand. It obviously can’t rise in the same spot where it was before, at the north end of Grand Army Plaza, because that location now honors another slain commander in chief.

“The place where Lincoln was is now where [President John] Kennedy is and nobody is going to move him,” Thomas said.

Towering presence: Here’s how the statue originally looked.

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