Architect Stanford White
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The Washington Square Arch is a marble triumphal arch built in 1892 in Washington Square Park in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan in New York City. It celebrates the centennial of George Washington's inauguration as President of the United States in 1789 and forms the grand southern terminus of Fifth Avenue.
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Washington Square Arch, constructed of white Tuckahoe marble (Westchester marble), was modeled by Stanford White on the Arc de Triomphe, built in 1806, in Paris (itself modeled on the Arch of Titus). It stands 77 feet (23 m) high. The piers stand 30 feet (9.1 m) apart and the arch opening is 47 feet (14 m) high. The iconography of the Arch centers on images of war and peace. On the frieze are 13 large stars and 42 small stars interspersed with capital "W"s. The spandrels contain figures of Victory. The inscription on the attic story reads:
Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God.
The north side of the eastern pier bears the sculpture George Washington as Commander-in-Chief, Accompanied by Fame and Valor (1914–16) by Hermon A. MacNeil in which the President is flanked by Fame (left) and Valor (right). The western pier has George Washington as President, Accompanied by Wisdom and Justice (1917–18) by A. Stirling Calder (father of Alexander Calder) with flanking Justice (right) and Wisdom (left) figures. In the latter sculpture, a hand holds a book bearing the Latin phrase Exitus Acta Probat ("the end justifies the deed"). These sculptures are commonly referred to as Washington at War and Washington at Peace, respectively. These figures and most of the rest of the carving on the arch was performed by the Piccirilli Brothers.
In 1889, a large plaster and wood memorial arch was erected over Fifth Avenue just north of Washington Square Park by local businessman and philanthropist William Rhinelander Stewart (1852-1929). Stewart lived at 17 Washington Square North and he collected $2,765 from his friends to finance the work. The temporary arch was so popular that three years later the permanent stone arch, designed by architect Stanford White, was erected.
During the excavations for the eastern pier, human remains, a coffin, and a gravestone dated 1803 were uncovered 10 feet (3.0 m) below ground level. The Arch was dedicated in 1895. In 1918, two statues of Washington were added to the north side.
Formerly, the Washington Square Arch was extensively defaced with spray-painted graffiti. It was cleaned and restored in the 1980s.