A monumental cleaning effort

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON AND TEQUILA MINSKY | Statuesque figures recently were looking their buffed best with a fresh-faced glow in the Village. No, it wasn’t Model Week — but you might call it Monuments Week.

Staff and summer apprentices from the Parks Department’s Citywide Monuments Conservation Project held a special Village preservation week from July 15 to July 19.

Power cleaning the Washington Square Arch on July 16. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)


The bulk of their activities involved the annual care of the Washington Square Arch. Running two lifts — one 80 feet tall — they reexamined and “sounded” the arch’s stonework, cleaned it gently with pressure washing, and repointed any areas of observable mortar loss.

Two lifts were used to clean the arch, including one that rose 80 feet tall. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

Inspecting the arch for mortar damage. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

The park’s Garibaldi and Holley monuments, along with the nearby Fiorello LaGuadia statue on LaGuardia Place, also got some spiffing up, including pressure washing along their bases and ledges. The finishing touch for the statues and monuments is a “hot waxing,” in which wax is melted onto them to protect the metal from the elements.

The ledges of the Garibaldi monument get a power cleaning. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

The supervisors of the Parks Departments monuments conservation crew have strong backgrounds in preservation and other staff have relevant backgrounds in the arts.

Melting protective wax onto the Fiorello LaGuardia statue on LaGuardia Place, just south of Washington Square Park. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

The “Little Flower” gets a big pedicure — and overall maintenance job — with an application of hot wax. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

In the immortal words of the Karate Kid: Wax on! (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

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