Saturday, November 7, 2009

Brooklyn War Memorials III

Thank god it was a nice day for a walk is all I can say; one of those clear, cool, crisp, sunny November days that make a walk out of doors a pure joy. Because that’s almost all I got for my efforts today: a nice walk outside.

I wanted to track down a few more of these war memorials and I chose some that I was certain would be in situ as they say. I guess that two out of four isn’t terrible; not great, but not terrible.


There is another armory at Atlantic and Bedford Avenues in Bed-Stuy. I have to admit I had no idea that Brooklyn alone boasts so many. I know there is one in South Williamsburg, there is the one in Park Slope, and I have yet to get to another Bed-Stuy armory on Marcus Garvey Blvd., not to mention National Guard armories.

This is the 23rd Regiment Armory. On the outside wall to the right of the entrance is very large bronze tablet commemorating the men of the regiment who gave their lives in the war. Depicted is a battlefield scene, men charging out of a trench. The inscription reads: In commemoration of the men of this regiment who gave their lives in the World War. Also listed are twelve battles that the regiment fought in, among the Ypres, the Somme, and the Hindenburg Line.

There is no indication on the tablet or in my sources as to the date the memorial was installed.

Borough Park

I don’t know what the problem is with these triangular slivers of municipal property that are dedicated in commemoration of individuals or soldiers in general, but they always appear forgotten, unkempt and seedy. It’s funny, too, that they always seem to be up against an elevated highway or elevated subway line. It’s as if once they’re dedicated, everyone forgets about them.

Alben Square is formed by the crossing of 46th Street, 11th Avenue, and new Utrecht Avenue in Borough Park. It’s a block from Fort Hamilton Avenue and the D train station there, and despite its name it is a triangle, not a square. And as you can see, it really does sit “in the shadow” of the elevated tracks


There is a flag pole in the center of the triangle with a tablet mounted on the pole’s concrete base. By enlarging the photo I took, I was just able to make out the words. You can’t read it while you are actually there because the tablet is so dark as to be almost indecipherable. Also there is an iron fence completely surrounding it with chains locking what look like gates on either side. I probably could have climbed over, the fence isn’t that high, and I doubt that anyone would have given me a second glance. But somehow it just didn’t seem worth the trouble.

The memorial was erected by the Private Budd H. Alben Post of the V.F.W. in 1935. The inscription reads: Erected in memory of the Veterans of Boro Park who made the supreme sacrifice. At the top is the phrase “Lest We Forget.”

I didn't think there was much sense in holding the following for another post because It will be at least a week if not longe before I get out again. Sunday's weather being as superb as Saturday's, I went out in the afternoon to see another nearby memorial I had inexplicably missed (probably coming within a few blocks of it on any number of occasions).

Bedford-Stuyvesant once again

Now, this is what I call an armory. I can imagine this place stocked with weapons; not small arms and rifles but mauls and maces, halberds and pikes, swords, shields, and chain mail. It looks like the lair of the Baron of Bed-Stuy. The Atlantic Ave. armory is oppressively large, this one is perfect.

It was the home of the 13th Regiment (254 Coast Artillery) of the New York National Guard. It is now the headquarters of the Black Veterans for Social Justice which helps with temporary housing for homeless men, vocational training, employment referrals, and so on.

The memorial to the men of the Coastal Artillery who died in the war is a free-standing granite one that stands behind a fence in front of the building. It is very large and contains an enormous number of names and other information in very small type on a central bronze panel. In fact, I'm not sure if all the names are of individuals who died in the war or just served in the war. It seems like an awful lot of names from one group. The historical society's booklet simply calls it an honor roll. The bronze is so weather-worn that it's hard to decipher some parts.

On either side of the central panel are two more depiciting battlefield scenes, one of which is shown above.

This was also behind a high fence that I had to stretch over the top of on tip-toe to try to get the shots. It needs a good cleaning and is also starting to come off the wall in the upper right. A few small pieces at the bottom in the center also look like they're missing.

A Map showing the location of these memorials

What Couldn’t I Find?

Along the way from the Atlantic Avenue armory to Borough Park, I cut through Prospect Park. I had to stop at the library anyway. It seemed a good opportunity to search for the monument that is supposed to be along the lake. My source describes it as a

crescent-shaped granite monument with a heroic bronze group and six bronze tablets, by Augustus Lukeman with Daniel Chester French associated with him

Now that sounds like too large a group to have disappeared or been removed. But I walked all around that damn lake this afternoon and couldn’t find a trace of it. I am thinking it has got to be there and I’m just not seeing it for some reason. I don’t know Augustus Lukeman but no one gets rid of something Daniel Chester French had a hand in. And it’s not like Prospect Park is getting crowded and they needed the room. I’ll find it if it is there.

I was disappointed, too, at not finding the bronze plaque on the four-foot-high granite base that was supposed to be at the head of the steps leading up into Sunset Park from Fifth Avenue, but that wasn’t there either. I suppose it could have been relocated to another part of the park, which is pretty large. Another trip back there.

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