Queens Boulevard Statue Finds New Home in Green-Wood Cemetery

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on December 17, 2012 5:23pm 

QUEENS — The Triumph of Civic Virtue has found a new home.

The controversial statue, which depicts Hercules with the sirens of Vice and Corruption, was installed at Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery Monday, days after being removed from a busy intersection of Union Turnpike and Queens Boulevard where it spent the past 70 years.

Relatives of sculptor Frederick MacMonnies, who created Civic Virtue, are buried at Green-Wood.

Colleen Roche, a cemetery spokeswoman, said the statue is "on a long-term lease to Green-Wood Cemetery," adding that it would remain there "indefinitely."

She also said the process of restoring the statue would begin in the spring.

The statue had been denounced by some as sexist and in recent years fell into disrepair.

But not everyone is happy that it's been moved.

Members of Community Board 9 had voted to keep the statue on Queens Boulevard and to restore it.

“This is a piece of public art,” CB9 chairwoman Andrea Crawford said at a recent community board meeting. “Because you don’t like the piece of public art, it doesn’t mean that you just let it deteriorate by neglect and when it’s convenient you move it to a private space.”

She also said that the decision by the municipal Design Commission to move Civic Virtue from Queens was made without consulting the community.

Crews worked the entire day Saturday to dismantle the statue and to prepare it for its journey to Brooklyn.

Known to Queens locals as “Fat Boy” or “Rough Boy,” the statue had been standing in Kew Gardens since Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia had it removed from City Hall Park.

Alex Anjjar, who owns a newspaper stand on Queens Boulevard, across the street from the statue's former location, said workers were already there when he opened Saturday at 6 a.m.

A massive crane blocked two lanes on Union Turnpike while waiting to hoist the monument onto a truck.

“It was here since I remember,” said David Jones, 68, a retiree who has lived in the area for 12 years. “It was part of what’s here.”

“They are stealing Civic Virtue from the people of Queens right now,” City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. posted on his Facebook page on Saturday. “Restore it where it is!”

Meanwhile, borough President Helen Marshall is pushing to replace the statue with a public plaza to honor New York City women.

A spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in an email that the relocation of Civic Virtue is part of a public-private initiative to ensure the long-term preservation of the sculpture.

“Civic Virtue will remain fully accessible to the public, and we are working on establishing a vibrant, welcoming public space in Queens while the statue is on loan to Green-Wood,” the mayor's spokesman said.

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