The Triumph of Civic Virtue

The Triumph of Civic Virtue is a public statue that was commissioned by New York City in 1909 and was bound with controversy throughout its lifecycle. It was designed by the sculptor F. W. MacMonnies and originally installed at City Hall Park in Manhattan in 1922. The Statue shows Civic Virtue – a giant muscular man holding a sword while standing victoriously on top of two siren-like women.
The man represents “Civic Virtue”, and the two women represent the Vices of Treachery and Corruption. Despite the controversy that the statue evoked for New Yorkers even before its final installation, and despite its immediate condemnation by the press, the statue was installed in 1922 in Manhattan, only two years after U.S. women were granted the right to vote, and First Wave Feminism was formed as a political movement. Political controversy followed the statue throughout the 20th century. It was relocated first by Mayor La Guardia, who resented the statue and nicknamed it “Fat Boy”. In 1941 La Guardia handed the statue to Queens as a gift for the borough’s new municipal center. 70 years later, in 2011, Civic Virtue was carved out of its fountain basin in Queens, and transferred to Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn for a long term loan.