Niagara Square - LINKS..................... Wm. McKinley - LINKS................. PPan-American Expo - LINKS

McKinley Monument
Niagara Square, Buffalo, NY

TEXT Beneath Illustrations




Carrere and Hastings
Builder: Ballard I. Crooker

Animal Sculptor:

A. Phimister (pronounced FIM is ter) Proctor

Also by Proctor:  "Agriculture" sculpture at the 1901 Buffalo Pan-American Espostion
Dedication: 1907 by Gov. Charles Evans Hughes
See also:
Paul Massing, McKinley Square


The assassination - Photograph of wash drawing by T. Dart Walker.
Source: American Memory - Library of Congress

Movie stills: President McKinley's funeral cortege at Buffalo, N.Y. / Thomas A. Edison, Inc.
Source: American Memory - Library of Congress

Upper right: Statler Hotel   ...   Below the Statler in the foreground is Central HS   ...    Below Central HS is Women's Christian Assoc.   ...   Buffalo Athletic Club is in left middle

Left (brown): Central High School   ...   Upper right (white): Telephone Company Building   ...   Far right, middle: Old County Hall   ...   Far right, lower:  Stephen G. Austin House

The People's Church    ....    Castle Inn

2002-2020 Photos

Looking down Court Street at McKinley Monument and City Hall

View west   ...  
City Hall in background

Egyptian Revival obelisk   ...   Center shaft is 93 feet tall

Center: Statler City

Robert H. Jackson US Court House   ...   Each carved lion weighs 15 tons   ...   Note dolphin, detailed twice below:

Waterspouts: Dolphin with volutes ... Turtle

Marble floor and monument

Marble balustrade

Niagara Square

Niagara Square is not a square, but a circle, and is at the intersection of Delaware, Niagara, Genesee and Court Streets. It was laid out by Joseph Ellicott, surveyor and land agent for the Holland Land Co. in 1807. At that time, the Square actually is square, and its intersecting avenues (Court, Genesee, and Niagara) converged around a much smaller inner circle

There is a marked similarity between Niagara Square in its original form and L'Enfant's plan for Washington, DC Andrew Ellicott, Joseph's brother, was one of L'Enfant's associates in DC.

The original concept of streets radiating from the square has been severely blocked by recent building. City Hall blocks the extension of Court Street west of Niagara Square; Main Place Mall stands astride Niagara Street; the Convention Center terminates the vista to the northeast along Genesee Street; and the Charles R., Turner Parking Ramp is built over West Genesee Street.

For many years Niagara Square was a poorly defined space. In 1874 Frederick Law Olmsted presented a plan for it that created a series of planted angles between incoming streets and envisioned a Civil War memorial arch (never erected) after a design by Richardson, H. H. to stand where Delaware Ave. enters the square from the north.

McKinley Monument

In the center of the square, for which Olmsted had proposed a large basin, stands the city's memorial to President William McKinley, who was assassinated while attending the Pan-American Exposition in 1901. Burnham, D. H., who was called in to consult on the project, suggested the appropriateness of an obelisk, with fountains at the base and decided where it should be placed.

Carrere and Hastings, the actual designers of the monument, were the architects in charge of the Exposition and had also worked with Burnham at the 1893 Chicago fair, where similar obelisks had been erected. (See also New York Public Library, New York City (designed by Carrere & Hastings: Photos #1 ... #2 ... #3)

A. Phimister Proctor, a well-known animal sculptor who executed several pieces for the Pan-American Exposition, carved the sleeping lions, symbols of strength, and the turtles, emblematic of eternal life.

Made of Vermont marble, 96' tall, the monument was dedicated in 1907 exactly six years after he was mortally shot on September 6 at the Temple of Music at the Exposition grounds.

Carl Sandburg wrote a poem about the monument:

Slants at Buffalo, New York

A forefinger of stone, dreamed by a sculptor, points to the sky.
It says: This way! this way!
Four lions snore in stone at the corner of the shaft.
They too are the dream of a sculptor.
They too say: This way! this way!
The street cars swing at a curve.
The middle-class passengers witness low life.
The car windows frame low life all day in pictures.
Two Italian cellar delicatessens
sell red and green peppers.
The Florida bananas furnish a burst of yellow.
The lettuce and the cabbage give a green.
Boys play marbles in the cinders.
The boys' hands need washing.
The boys are glad; they fight among each other.
A plank bridge leaps the Lehigh Valley railroad.
Then acres of steel rails, freight cars, smoke,
And then ... the blue lake shore
...Erie with Norse blue eyes ... and the white sun.

Text sources:

  • "Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, New York," in "The Grand American Avenue 1850-1920." San Francisco: Pomegranate Artbooks,1994

  • Victorian Buffalo, by Cynthia Van Ness

  • "Buffalo Architecture: A Guide." Cambridge: MIT Press, 1981 (Amazon.Com and Barnes and Noble)

  • "Designated Landmarks of the Niagara Frontier," by Austin M. Fox. Buffalo: Meyer Enterprises, P.O. Box 733, Ellicott Station, Buffalo, New York 14205. 1986. OUT OF PRINT.
See also:  Paul Massing, McKinley Square

Photos and their arrangement 2020 Chuck LaChiusa
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