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Grant's Tomb

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Title: Grant's Tomb  
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Subject: Ulysses S. Grant, Julia Grant, Hudson-Fulton Celebration, List of burial places of Presidents of the United States, Sakura Park
Collection: 1897 Establishments in New York, 1897 Sculptures, Buildings and Monuments Honoring American Presidents, Buildings and Structures Completed in 1897, Buildings and Structures in Manhattan, Government Buildings on the National Register of Historic Places in Manhattan, History Museums in New York City, Landmarks in Manhattan, Mausoleums in the United States, Monuments and Memorials in New York, Morningside Heights, Manhattan, Museums in Manhattan, National Memorials of the United States, Presidential Museums in New York, Tombs in the United States, Tombs of Presidents of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, United States National Park Service Areas in New York, Visitor Attractions in Manhattan
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Grant's Tomb

General Grant National Memorial
Grant's Tomb in 2004
Location Riverside Drive and West 122nd Street, Morningside Heights, Manhattan, New York City
Area 0.76 acre (3100 m²)
Built April 27, 1897
Architect John H. Duncan
Architectural style Neoclassical
Visitation 80,046 (2005)
Governing body National Park Service
NRHP Reference # 66000055[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966
Designated NMEM August 14, 1958

Grant's Tomb, now formally known as General Grant National Memorial, is the final resting place of Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885), the 18th President of the United States, and his wife, Julia Dent Grant (1826–1902). Completed in 1897, the tomb is located in Riverside Park in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan in New York City, across the street from the monumental Riverside Church. It was placed under the management of the National Park Service in 1958.


  • History 1
    • Conception 1.1
      • Creation of the Grant Monument Association 1.1.1
      • Funding 1.1.2
    • Design competition 1.2
    • Construction 1.3
    • Decay and restoration 1.4
  • Today 2
    • Policies 2.1
    • Public art project 2.2
  • In popular culture 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6



Creation of the Grant Monument Association

On July 23, 1885, Ulysses S. Grant died of throat cancer at age 63 in Wilton, New York.[2] Grant's family agreed to have his remains interred in New York City.[3] William Russell Grace, the Mayor of New York City, wrote a letter to prominent New Yorkers the following day, to gather support for a national monument in Grant's honor.[3] The letter read as follows:

Dear Sir: In order that the City of New York, which is to be the last resting place of General Grant, should initiate a movement to provide for the erection of a National Monument to the memory of the great soldier, and that she should do well and thoroughly her part, I respectfully request you to as one of a Committee to consider ways and means for raising the quota to be subscribed by the citizens of New York City for this object, and beg that you will attend a meeting to be held at the Mayor's office on Tuesday next, 28 inst., at three o'clock...[3]

This preliminary meeting was attended by 85 New Yorkers and established the Committee on Organization. The chairman of the Committee was former U.S. president

  • Official NPS website: General Grant National Memorial
  • Grant Monument Association
  • Grant's funeral and the mausoleum
  • Description of The Rolling Bench
  • CITYarts project to restore The Rolling Bench
  • "Life Portrait of Ulysses S. Grant", broadcast from the General Grant National Memorial from C-SPAN's American Presidents: Life Portraits

External links

Further reading

  • Kahn, David (January 1980). General Grant National Memorial Historical Resource Study ( 
  • Waugh, Joan (2009). U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth. North Carolina:  


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  2. ^ Kahn 1980, p. 5
  3. ^ a b c Kahn 1980, p. 28
  4. ^ a b c Kahn 1980, p. 29
  5. ^ Kahn 1980, p. 31
  6. ^ Kahn 1980, p. 32.
  7. ^ a b Kahn 1980, p. 33
  8. ^ Kahn 1980, p. 12
  9. ^ Kahn 1980, p. 35
  10. ^ Kahn 1980, p. 36
  11. ^ Waugh 2009, p. 281
  12. ^ Kahn 1980, p. 37
  13. ^ a b c Kahn 1980, p. 51
  14. ^ Kahn 1980, p. 54
  15. ^ a b Kahn 1980, p. 76
  16. ^ a b Kahn 1980, p. 77
  17. ^ Kahn 1980, p. 73
  18. ^ Kahn 1980, p. 74
  19. ^ Kahn 1980, p. 78
  20. ^ Grgetic, Rick. "Grant's Tomb". Clermont County Ohio Historical Society. Retrieved 2015-07-08. 
  21. ^ Dolkart, Andrew; Postal, Matthew A. (2004). Guide to New York City Landmarks. New York City: Landmarks Preservation Commission. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  22. ^ Kahn 1980, p. 92
  23. ^ Kahn 1980, p. 95
  24. ^ Kahn 1980, p. 96
  25. ^ Kahn 1980, p. 99
  26. ^ Kahn 1980, p. 102
  27. ^ Kahn 1980, p. 123
  28. ^ Waugh 2009, p. 162
  29. ^ a b Kahn 1980, p. 164
  30. ^ Waugh 2009, p. 304
  31. ^ Kahn 1980, p. 170
  32. ^ Kahn 1980, p. 166
  33. ^ a b Kahn 1980, p. 167
  34. ^ Kahn 1980, p. 174
  35. ^ a b c d "The Tomb's Decline and Restoration". Grant Monument Association. Retrieved 2015-07-08. 
  36. ^ NORIMITSU, ONISHI (28 April 1997). "Ceremony at Grant's Tomb Notes Gadfly's Triumph". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 December 2013. 
  37. ^ Edward, Colimore (16 February 1995). "Grave Mission Frank Scaturro, A Longtime Fan Of Gen. Ulysses Grant, Was Appalled To Discover The Low Estate To Which Grant's Famed Tomb Had Fallen. So He Mounted A Campaign To Set Things Right.".  
  38. ^ Susan, Claffey. "Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb?". The Smithsonian Associates Civil War E-Mail Newsletter 9 (5). Retrieved 28 December 2013. 
  39. ^ Colimore, Edward (16 February 1995). "Grave Mission Frank Scaturro, A Longtime Fan Of Gen. Ulysses Grant, Was Appalled To Discover The Low Estate To Which Grant's Famed Tomb Had Fallen. So He Mounted A Campaign To Set Things Right.". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 28 December 2013. 
  40. ^ Howell, David (March 31, 1994). "Lawmakers: Fix Grant's Tomb or Bring it Here".  
  41. ^ Grant's Tomb National Memorial Act of 1994, H.R. 4393, 103d Cong., 2nd session (May 11th, 1994).
  42. ^ Green, Jorie (22 September 1993). "Law student crusades for Grant's Tomb".  
  43. ^ "Operating Hours and Seasions". National Park Service. Retrieved 2015-03-14. 
  44. ^ Allon, Janet (30 March 1997). "Mosaic benches face unseating at-Grant's Tomb". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 March 2010. 
  45. ^ Akasie, Jay (27 August 2008). "Teaching Children the Benefits of Restoration".  
  46. ^ "Riverside Park Virtual Tour 2) Grant's Tomb". NYC Parks. 
  47. ^ "Programs: Summerfest". Jazzmobile. 
  48. ^ "Grant's Tomb: SUMMER CONCERT". August 28, 2009. 
  49. ^ "Grant's Tomb: Bio". ReverbNation. 



See also

  • According to NYC Parks, "some popular local folk art in Riverside Park contrasts strikingly with the Tomb's severity".[46]
  • Concerts are regularly held at or right outside Grant's Tomb. Examples include Jazzmobile, Inc.'s annual Free Outdoor Summer Mobile Concerts at Grant's Tomb,[47] and the annual Grant's Tomb SUMMER CONCERT, which in 2009 featured West Point's United States Military Academy Band.[48]
  • Grant's Tomb is a New York City-based band composed of conservatory trained jazz musicians "with a party mentality", who "got their name from Grant's Tomb Park a block away, a favorite band hangout".[49]
  • In the 1945 Billy Wilder film The Lost Weekend, one of the supporting characters is an escort girl who claims to often take her clients to visit Grant's Tomb.
  • On his radio and television show You Bet Your Life, comedian Groucho Marx often asked contestants, "Who was buried in Grant's Tomb?" The riddle is based on the use of the word "buried." The correct answer is "no one," since Grant and his wife are entombed in sarcophagi above ground in an atrium rather than being buried in the ground. However, Marx often still accepted the answer "Grant," and awarded a consolation prize to those who gave it. He used the question, among several other comically simple ones, to ensure that everyone won a prize on the show.
  • Grant's Tomb is also to be seen in the 1936 Frank Capra movie Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.

In popular culture

A sculpture consisting of seventeen concrete benches bearing colorful mosaics was created around the monument. The sculpture, entitled The Rolling Bench, was designed by artist Pedro Silva and the architect Phillip Danzig, and was built with the help of hundreds of neighborhood children over a period of three years.[44] The project was sponsored by public art by bringing together children and artists. The sculpture underwent restoration during the summer of 2008 under the supervision of Silva.[45]

Public art project

Every year on April 27, the anniversary of his birth, a ceremony celebrating Ulysses S. Grant's life is held at the memorial.

Photography is allowed in the tomb, but cellphone use, eating, drinking, smoking, and gum chewing are prohibited.

Grant's Tomb is open to the public with staggered hours, between 9:00 a.m and 5:00 p.m., from Wednesday through Sunday. The tomb and visitor center are closed on Monday and Tuesday.[43] The visitor center is located about 100 yards to the west of the mausoleum and contains a bookstore, memorabilia, and public restrooms. The mausoleum is one of the few remaining places that is not wheelchair accessible, although the visitor center does comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.



The abuse of the monument continued until renewed restoration efforts began in the early 1990s; in 1991, [35] General Grant's descendants, who were appalled by the conditions of the tomb, called Scaturro a hero for his efforts.[42]

In 1958, the National Park Service (NPS) was granted authority to oversee the monument. According to a report by the NPS itself, a historian admitted that when the NPS first assumed authority over the tomb, they "had no program for the site." This led to great negligence of the site, particularly in the maintenance of the monument. By the 1970s, the tomb was marred by vandalism and [35]

Thirty-eight years after the tomb opened, the initial restoration project began in December 1935, when the James B. McPherson, and Edward Ord.[33] The WPA installed five busts in the circular wall of the atrium surrounding the sarcophagi. After the many contributions of the WPA, the Grant Monument Association held a re-dedication of the tomb on April 27, 1939.[34]

Decay and restoration

On April 17, 1897, Grant's remains were quietly transferred to an 8.5 ton red granite sarcophagus and placed in the mausoleum. The monument was dedicated ten days later on April 27, 1897, on the 75th-anniversary ceremony of Grant's birth on April 27, 1822.[28] Julia Dent Grant, Grant's wife of nearly 40 years, died five years later in 1902 and was placed in a matching sarcophagus and laid to rest in the mausoleum beside her husband.

Construction began that summer, and by August preliminary excavation was complete.[25] Construction was on schedule until the GMA asked Duncan to alter his design in the spring of 1892; the design could not be as elaborate as originally planned because of the Association's inability to raise the sufficient funds.[26] Construction was also slowed by a stonecutters’ strike in 1892. After 1894, construction proceeded at a faster pace, and by 1896, all work on the outside of the tomb was nearly complete.[27] One innovative feature of the tomb construction is the use of Guastavino tile vaulting to support the circular floor above the perimeter of the downstairs atrium.

By 1890, the GMA had a defined design and architect. Although the GMA was becoming more organized and the reality of the monument was becoming clearer, the debate over the monument's location reopened in Congress. In October 1890, U.S. Senator Hale introduced legislation to have the sarcophagi placed at a monument in Washington, D.C.[22] The legislation did not pass, but this effort reopened the debate over the proper place for the remains of General Grant. A groundbreaking ceremony had already been scheduled for April 27, 1891, and although the parties had not agreed on a location for the monument by that date, a groundbreaking ceremony was still held.[23] In June 1891, deliberations ended; the monument was to be built in New York City, and in that month the GMA hired a contractor named John T. Brady.[24]

Red granite sarcophagi of Ulysses and Julia Grant
Grant's Tomb on inauguration day, April 27, 1897


The first design competition received 65 designs, 42 of which came from international entries. The Grant Memorial Association did not award an overall winner and a second design competition was ordered. In April of 1890, the Grant Memorial Association selected, from only five commissioned entries, the design of John Duncan.John Hemenway Duncan,[15] who estimated his design would cost between $496,000 and $900,000.[16] Duncan made his first architectural claims in 1883, designing the Washington Monument at Newburgh, the Newburgh Monument, and the Tower of Victory. Duncan built these structures to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the U.S. Revolutionary War,[17] and he became a member of the Architectural League in 1887.[18] Duncan cited as his design's objective: " produce a monumental structure that should be unmistakably a tomb of military character."[15] He wanted to avoid "resemblance of a habitable dwelling",[19] as the structure was meant to be the epitome of reverence and respect.[16] The tomb's granite exterior is modeled after the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus with Persian elements[20] and, but for the Ionic order, resembles the Tropaeum Alpium. Within the tomb, the twin sarcophagi of Grant and his wife Julia are based on the sarcophagus of Napoleon Bonaparte at Les Invalides.[21]

On February 4, 1888, after a year's delay, the GMA publicly announced the details of a design competition, in a newsletter entitled “To Artists, Architects, and Sculptors”.[13] This information was made public to the entire nation; it was also published in Europe.[13] The GMA also proposed a new estimate for the monument's cost, which ranged from $500,000 to $1,000,000.[13] The deadline for all designs was rescheduled three times and was then set for a final date of January 10, 1889.[14]

Design competition

Criticism was not limited to the debate about the monument's location. According to The New York Times, there was discontent with the internal management of the GMA. The criticism was: even though the GMA members amongst the wealthiest in New York, they were making comparatively small donations to the effort they themselves were promoting. The New York Times characterized the members as "sitting quietly in an office and signing receipts for money voluntarily tendered."[9] In this early stage, the GMA did not have a model for what the monument was to be; it continued to ask for donations without explaining its purpose, which frustrated and discouraged donors.[10] Joan Waugh captured the feelings of the average citizen in her book, American Hero American Myth: "Why should citizens give money to build a monument whose shape was still a mystery?"[11] The GMA did not propose a definitive plan for the monument until five years later.[12] During its first few years, the GMA fell short of the fundraising expectations originally set by Alonzo Cornell. In the first year, 1885, the GMA raised just over $111,000, 10% of its goal. In the two years that followed, it raised just $10,000. This slow pace of fundraising caused some trustees to resign. No design for the structure yet existed, and without such a design, it was believed that fundraising efforts would continue to remain low.

Riverside was selected by myself and my family as the burial place of my husband, General Grant. First, because I believed New York was his preference. Second, it is near the residence that I hope to occupy as long as I live, and where I will be able to visit his resting place often. Third, I have believed, and am now convinced, that the tomb will be visited by as many of his countrymen there as it would be at any other place. Fourth, the offer of a park in New York was the first which observed and unreservedly assented to the only condition imposed by General Grant himself, namely, that I should have a place by his side.[8]

The opposition was vocal in the view that the monument should be in Washington, D.C. Mayor Grace tried to calm the controversy by publicly releasing Mrs. Grant's justification for the New York site as the resting place for her husband, in her own words. Mrs. Grant wrote:

The Grant Monument Association did not originally announce the function or structure of the monument; however, the idea of any monument in Grant's honor drew public support.[4] Western Union donated $5,000 on July 29, the day the committee announced its proposal.[4] The GMA continued to receive donations of large and small amounts. At a membership meeting, former New York State governor Alonzo Cornell proposed a fundraising goal of $1 million.[5] Private industries such as insurance and iron-trading companies donated funds to the project. For every ton of coal the Consumers Coal Company sold, it gave a major donation of 37½ cents to the GMA.[6] Although there was great enthusiasm for a monument to President Grant, early fundraising efforts were stifled by growing negative public opinion expressed by out-of-state press.[7] The Clay County Enterprise in Brazil, Indiana wrote, "We have not a cent for New York in the undertaking, and would advise that not a dollar of help be sent to the millionaire city from Indiana… If the billions of New York are not sufficient to embellish the city…let the remains be placed in Washington or some other American city." (September 11)[7]



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