Union Square – Dewey Monument

 Posted by on March 26, 2012
Mar 262012
Union Square
Most everyone that visits San Francisco sees this piece of public art.  Two years before the Gold Rush, in 1847, Jasper O’Farrell, the first surveyor of San Francisco,  created a design for the city, with Union Square as a public plaza. By the 1880s, it was a fashionable residential district, and in 1903, this towering monument was added. A monument to Admiral George Dewey’s victory at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish American War. It also commemorates U.S. President William McKinley, who had been recently assassinated. The figurine at the top of the monument, “Winged Victory”, was modeled, reportedly, from the likeness of a local heiress, Alma de Bretteville Spreckels.
Designed by sculptor Robert I. Aitken and architect Newton J. Tharp, the Dewey Monument consisted of a 79-foot-tall granite shaft, surmounted by an 18-foot-high pedestal adorned with the bronzed figure “Winged Victory.” In one hand she bears a trident, the symbol of Poseidon and of naval victory, and in the other hand, a laurel wreath, also a symbol of victory.  Robert Aitken has been in this blog before.
Dedication of Dewey Monument by Teddy Roosevelt
Teddy Roosevelt dedicated the Dewey Monument in 1903 – Photo Courtesy of the Bancroft Library
A wonderfully detailed history of Union Square can be found here.

  7 Responses to “Union Square – Dewey Monument”

  1. Aha! Mr. Aitken again! This one I really love…and it looks like…never mind…but it’s really well done and your photos are so well-composed!

    Seems rather strange to make something celebrating a naval victory in the Spanish-American war … did SF play any important role in that conflict?

  2. […] Ground for this statue was broken by Theodore Roosevelt. The spade that Roosevelt used to break ground for the monument was a copy that McKinley had used to break ground for the Dewey Monument in Union Square. […]

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