Happy Birthday, Mr. President! On this day in 1732 George Washington, Founding Father and first President of the United States was born. Washington’s inauguration took place in New York City on April 30th, 1789 at Federal Hall.
The Washington Square Arch in Washington Square Park, designed by architect Stanford White was built between 1890 and 1892, to celebrate the centennial of Washington’s inauguration. Stanford’s design was influenced by Roman arches and Paris’s Arc de Triomphe. The arch replaced a temporary plaster and wooden arch in place during 1889 which proved so popular that local businessman and philanthropist William Rhinelander Stewart, who lived at 17 Washington Square North, raised $2,765 from friends and the local community to finance the Tuckahoe marble arch we know today.
The north eastern side of the arch bears a statue of George Washington as Commander-in-Chief, accompanied by Fame (left) and Valor (right). The western pier portrays George Washington as President, accompanied by Wisdom (left) and Justice (right). These sculptures are often considered as portrayals of Washington at war (left) and Washington at peace (right).
The frieze of the arch features 13 large stars and 42 small stars interspersed with capital "W"s. The spandrels contain figures of victory, and the inscription on the southern side of the frieze quotes Washington, “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God.” The quote is thought to be from Washington’s address to delegates in 1787, while President of the Constitutional Convention. The south side of the arch also features two seals, New York City and New York State. The north side bears the seals of the Washington coat of arms, on the east, (which also gave the city of Washington, D.C. its flag), and on the west is the Great Seal of the United States.
The arch stands 77 feet tall, the central piers are 30 feet apart and the arch opening is 47 feet high.