Astoria Park War Memorial
The Astoria Park War memorial honors the men who fought and died in World War I from the neighborhood of Long Island City. Erected in 1926, it is located on the far end of Astoria Park, along Shore Boulevard. The monument consists of a wide pedestal with a decorate stone stele. A large engraving on the pedestal features a Biblical quote from John 15:13, followed by a smaller, specific dedication.
Backstory and Context
Location & History
The Astoria Park War Memorial is not readily noticeable upon entering Astoria Park, as it is tucked on Shore Boulevard (which runs along the water), behind the large swimming pool, which was added almost ten years later, in 1936.1 The monument itself was commissioned by the Long Island City Committee in 1926, which erected and dedicated the piece to the residents of Long Island City who had perished in the war from 1914 to 1918.2 In total, the combined death toll for the neighborhoods of Astoria and Long Island City (Astoria had been part of Long Island city for a brief time, and the neighborhoods were often grouped together) was 101, with 39 from Astoria3 and 62 from Long Island City.4
The monument itself was designed by architecture firm Ruehl and Warren, and the art on the stone stele was sculpted by renowned American sculptor Gaetano Cecere.5
The monument consists of a 10" by 20' base, with a 3' by 15' pedestal, topped with a 6' by 3.9' stele.5 The decorative stele, which is a type of stone or wooden slab used as a memorial, features a female victory symbol, in which an angelic figure holds a sword in her right hand and a laurel in the other, representing the two sides of war and peace.1 The ends of the pedestal are capped with circular markings, and the sides of the stele are adorned with sculpted wreaths, additional symbols of peace. The pedestal features an inscription with a Biblical quote and a note of dedication.
The large type of the inscription reads:
GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN THIS THAT A MAN LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS
This quote, which comes from John 15:13, encapsulates the sacrifice that the men the monument honors demonstrated by giving up their lives for their fellow soldiers. Below the quote reads, in smaller text:
ERECTED 1926 BY THE PEOPLE OF LONG ISLAND CITY IN HONOR OF ALL THEIR FELLOW CITIZENS WHO SERVED IN THE WORLD WAR 1914-1918
The wording of this dedication does not specifically single out just citizens of Long Island City who laid down their lives, and does not restrict its dedication to the years 1917 and 1918, when the United States was a participant in the war. The side of the monument facing away from Shore Boulevard does not feature any designs or inscriptions.
World War I, described as the Great War at the time of the monument's dedication, ended on November 11th, 1918, although many of the deaths associated with the war didn't occur until later due to injuries and illnesses.
1Astoria Park: Astoria Pool. NYC Parks. Accessed November 01, 2017. https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/astoria-park/highlights/8892.
2Astoria Park: Long Island War Memorial. NYC Parks. Accessed November 01, 2017. https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/astoria-park/highlights/12547.
3New York state's World War I dead. Newsday. Accessed November 01, 2017. http://data.newsday.com/long-island/data/history/world-war-i-deaths/#s:community=astoria|o:c=communi....
4New York state's World War I dead. Newsday. Accessed November 01, 2017. http://data.newsday.com/long-island/data/history/world-war-i-deaths/#s:community=long%20island%20city|o:c=communi....
5Astoria Park: Astoria War Memorial. NYC Parks. Accessed November 01, 2017. https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/astoria-park/monuments/59.
Jake Christie (November 2, 2017)