Aluminum Statue of Uncle Sam
Troy, New York
There are statues of Uncle Sam across the USA, bestowing patriotic blessings on everything from used cars to seasonal fireworks. The one that would please him the most, however, might be the all-aluminum Uncle Sam in Troy, New York, which is the hometown of the real man, Samuel Wilson, who Troy believes inspired the cartoon character Uncle Sam.
"We chose to depict him as the icon rather than the man," said Rensselaer County historian Kathy Sheehan. The county, she said, was "suspicious" that the lone surviving image of Samuel Wilson -- an old photograph -- is in fact of someone else (A statue based on that photo stands at Samuel Wilson's birthplace in Arlington, Massachusetts).
The decision to go with Uncle Sam rather than Samuel Wilson seems smart. A shiny silver statue of Uncle Sam -- with his familiar billy goat beard, and American Flag coat, pants, and top hat -- is more photo-worthy than a statue of an obscure 19th century meatpacker (unless there are stacks of sculpted meat, of course). The statue identifies him as "Uncle Sam Wilson," a delicate distinction that sidesteps the awkward fact that cartoon character Uncle Sam didn't appear until two decades after Samuel Wilson was dead.
The Uncle Sam statue stands next to Uncle Sam Bus Stop. According to Kathy Sheehan, it's a popular spot for foreign film crews to ask locals what they think of Uncle Sam. "They don't always answer the way I'd like them to," said Kathy. "I remember one who said he was a Civil War general."