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Monitor Monument.

Nude Man on Civil War Ironclad

Field review by the editors.

Brooklyn, New York

Within a charming park in Brooklyn's kielbasa-saturated Greenpoint neighborhood is a monument to the USS Monitor, which was built and launched from Brooklyn on January 30, 1862 (its innovative designer was genius Swedish-American engineer John Ericsson).

The Monitor was met with skepticism -- one critic called it a "cheesebox on a raft" and Nathaniel Hawthorne thought it looked like "a gigantic rat trap" -- but it faced down the Confederate ironclad Merrimack later that year. Although their naval battle ended in a draw, it prevented the Merrimack from sailing up the Potomac River and bombarding Washington, DC.

Unclad on the Ironclad

Monitor Monument.

The monument is a bronze statue of a heroic-size, muscular nude male pulling a rope tied around a capstan, since in the world of allegorical figures, sitting back on your bare buns creates optimum leverage for tugging on rigging.

The statue was sculpted by Italian-American Antonio de Filippo and dedicated in 1938. It honors the inventive Ericsson, as well as the ship itself and its crew. Sixteen of them died when the Monitor sank less than a year after its launch off of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

Sneak Attack

A more recent tragedy occurred in January of 2013 when some jerk poured bright white paint over the head and shoulders of the giant naturist sailor, making it look like the world's largest pigeon took a massive poop on his Elvis-like pompadour. The timing was an added affront, as January 2013 was the 150th anniversary of the Monitor's sinking. The Parks Dept. immediately went to work, removing the offending paint, although substantial splatter could still be seen, months later, on the cobblestones below.

Sneak attack splatter.
Sneak attack splatter.

Through it all, the buff rope-yanking hero has stood (or sat) proud, his determined gaze daring any and all antagonists, naval or naughty, to bring it on.

For Ironclad Fans

There is a statue of Ericsson in Manhattan's Battery Park. More Monitor-related sites include the USS Monitor Mariners Museum in Virginia, a replica of its cheesebox turret at the National Civil War Naval Museum in Georgia, and Monitor-Merrimack Overlook Park in Virginia, which can be reached by driving the Monitor-Merrimack Bridge-Tunnel.


Nude Man on Civil War Ironclad

McGolrick Park

Monitor St., Brooklyn, NY
By subway: Take the G train to Nassau Ave. Walk east on Nassau for eight blocks. Enter McGolrick Park at the corner of Nassau and Russell. You'll find the statue along the eastern edge of the park (Monitor St.), near the large limestone pavilion.
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Nearby Offbeat Places

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In the region:
World's Fair: The Unisphere, Queens, NY - 5 mi.

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