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Washington Square Arch gets a ‘lift’ with annual cleaning and conservation

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | You might have recently noticed — it was pretty hard to miss — an 80-foot lift in action at the Washington Square Arch. It was there for the monument’s annual cleaning and inspection by the Parks Department’s conservation program staff and summer trainees.

During their several days of work, the crew checked the famed monument for stability, closely examined its understory coffered ceiling, “sounded” upper-level dentils (toothlike detailing), and did a light cleaning of soiling, pollutants and bio-growth from its ornaments, statuary and masonry. They also repointed any failed mortar joints, though less than last year, when they spent weeks repointing the arch’s parapet level. Better bird proofing was also installed last year.

The arch was cleaned and also inspected for structural soundness. (Photo by Adrian Sas / NYC Parks)
The trainees had to get in behind some bird netting that was installed last year, so that they could remove bio-growth that had taken root in mortar joints in several spots. (NYC Parks)
The summer trainees lightly washed soiling and pollutants off of the arch. (Photo by Adrian Sas / NYC Parks)
The crew worked 80 feet above the ground. (Photo by Jennifer Lantzas / NYC Parks)

The Parks Department’s Citywide Monuments Conservation Program — a public-private initiative under the department’s division of Art & Antiquities — is now in its 27th season.  Participating interns, most of them bound for graduate-level conservation training, receive hands-on instruction in various media, from metalwork to stone masonry.

As part of the conservation effort, the statue of Mayor Fiorello La Guardia a couple of blocks south of the park was also cleaned and given a fresh coating of protective wax. (NYC Parks)

They also cleaned and rewaxed several nearby historic bronze sculptures, including the Garibaldi and Alexander Holley monuments in the park, plus the LaGuardia statue on LaGuardia Place.

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