Wednesday, May 1, 2013

chip off the old block

Have a thing for skulls?

Do you like frogs?

Or Doves?

How do you feel about serpents and fish?

Or suggestive, formal poses?

If so, the Heinrich Heine Memorial Fountain is for you.

Just up the hill from Yankee Stadium and across from the Bronx Courthouse...

...both Heine and his memorial have a long, strange history.

He was a German poet and essayist, but with a sarcastic, critical bent and the kind of national pride that compelled him to actually live in France while lobbing bitter bombshells back across the border.

Understandably, he had his detractors. 
But he had supporters, too.

When his admirers commissioned this memorial for his birthplace in Dusseldorf, the city defiantly refused it.

REALLY?! That's hilarious. 
Let's bring it to New York! 

Carved in white Tyrolean marble depicting an oceanic scene around Lorelei, the NYC Parks Department in 1895 rejected it again, calling it “dry, weak and conventional”, and “a two-penny affair.”

Hm. Not exactly stirring words. 
So where did it wind up in 1898? 

The Bronx, naturally.

No less than the American Architect magazine said WHY NOT?

In the Bronx, nothing could be uglier than “the mass of wooden tenements and crazy beer-shops to which the territory now seems exclusively devoted.”

Gee thanks. 
Our ClockTower had already been around for a dozen years by then. But I digress. 

I’d like to tell you it was happily ever after. It wasn’t.

Vandals armed with ice axes chopped the mermaids arms off in 1900.

And in 1905 a nearby demolition knocked off a head.

1 comment:

  1. AnonymousMay 01, 2013

    Maybe a job on an apple tour bus is in your future.