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Union Square's George Washington Statue Polished for Independence Day

By Claire Oliver | July 2, 2013 5:55pm
 In time for the Fourth of July, Union Square's patriotic statues are getting a little TLC.
Union Square Statue Conservation
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UNION SQUARE — The George Washington statue in Union Square got some extra attention on Tuesday ahead of July Fourth.

A team of six conservators with the Parks Department's Citywide Monuments Conservation Program used cherry pickers, paint brushes and blow torches to clean up George Washington, which is the oldest public sculpture in the city, dedicated July 4, 1856.

The workers, who kept an eye out for elements in need of repair, also did preservation work on statues of Abraham Lincoln and the Marquis de Lafayette, along with the Independence Flagstaff, which sits at the center of the park.

The work was timed for July Fourth because some of the patriotic statues, including George Washington, were dedicated on previous Independence Days.

Union Square’s Donndorf drinking fountain — located on Union Square West near 16th Street — also received attention, while work on the Gandhi statue will wait until just before a celebration of his birthday in October.

“We treat the collection...with respect, because the notion of monuments is the preservation of memory,” said Jonathan Kuhn, director of art and antiquities for the Parks Department.

The three-day project, which started Monday, is part of an 11-week educational program for graduate students in historic preservation and fine arts. In the past, it has drawn in participants from across the United States as well as from abroad.

The Citywide Monuments Conservation Program's next project is the Washington Square Arch.