Eleanor Roosevelt Monument
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, the niece of one president and the wife of another, was born in New York City on October 11, 1884. Orphaned at the age of 10, Eleanor lived with her maternal grandmother until she was sent to England at age 15 to attend school. Returning to New York in 1903 for her debut, Eleanor met and became engaged to her distant cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In 1905, they married. After her husband was stricken with polio in the 1920’s, Eleanor became active in the New York State Democratic Party. During Franklin Roosevelt’s term as President of the United States, she greatly expanded the role of the First Lady, holding press conferences, giving lectures and radio interviews, traveling throughout the country and expressing her opinions in a daily syndicated newspaper column entitled My Day. After her husband’s death, she became a great advocate for the United Nations. Until her own death on November 7, 1962, she remained an active teacher, writer and an advocate for women, minorities, young people, labor and the poor.
Created by noted artist Penelope Jencks, the eight-foot statue of Eleanor Roosevelt is constructed of bronze and stone and is located inside Riverside Park at West 72nd Street and Riverside Drive. This monument is the first public statue of a president’s wife in the nation and only the second public statue of an American woman in New York City. Funding for the $1.14 million Eleanor Roosevelt Monument project was provided by the New York Department of Transportation, the City of New York, the State of New York, and the Eleanor Roosevelt Monument Fund, which has established an endowment for the ongoing maintenance of the sculpture.
The planning for the Eleanor Roosevelt Monument began in 1986. At the dedication ceremony on October 5, 1996, her grandson, Franklin D. Roosevelt III, and 35 other members of his family were in attendance. Several politicians also attended the ceremony, including then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, a great admirer of Mrs. Roosevelt, gave the keynote address.
Today, a Riverside Park Fund Grassroots Volunteer works to keep the area surrounding the monument clean and attractive.