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Vandalized Bronx WWI Statue To Be Renovated and Returned to Post by 2017

 The city is working to restore a South Bronx statue meant to honor WWI veterans.
The city is working to restore a South Bronx statue meant to honor WWI veterans.
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NYC Parks

SOUTH BRONX — A monument meant to honor Bronx World War I veterans that was badly vandalized in the 1970s is now being renovated by the Parks Department and should be back on public display by next year.

The statue is known as the Highbridge Doughboy (doughboy is an informal term for American infantrymen who fought in WWI) and was dedicated in Highbridge in 1923 to honor 21 local soldiers who died in the war, according to the city.

The statue cost $6,000 to build and was located in what is now called Bridge Park. It depicts a member of the infantry wearing a helmet and holding a rifle in his left hand and a grenade in his right hand.

However, these weapons did not help the monument survive The Bronx during the 1970s.

The statue had three bronze honor rolls fastened to its granite pedestal that were stolen in 1974, and its rifle was snatched in 1976, according to the Parks Department.

Around that same time, the doughboy was toppled off of its pedestal, and its helmet and arms were damaged as well.

“Only in The Bronx can a man made of steel get jacked,” said John Howard Algarin, Parks Chair of Bronx Community Board 4, “…but we’d like to bring this man of steel back.”

The sculpture's pedestal is still in Bridge Park, but the statue itself is currently in the Art and Antiquities Monuments Shop in Brooklyn, according to the Parks Department.

The city is currently working on restoring the Highbridge Doughboy, and once these efforts are complete, officials hope to relocate it to Macombs Dam Park at Jerome Avenue and 161st Street by Yankee Stadium.

The Parks Department described Macombs Dam Park as "highly visible" and the best place in the community for the statue, as a children's play space is now being planned for Bridge Park and should be completed by the fall.

Jonathan Kuhn, director of art and antiquities at the Parks Department, said they are still putting together the funding to complete the doughboy's restoration but expect to have it back on public display by 2017, in time for the 100th anniversary of the United States' entry into WWI.

"It happens that we have, by far, more monuments in our parks system honoring World War I than any other event. In fact, we have 122," Kuhn said. "121 of them are in public view. Once we put this back, all of them will be."