The Four Continents – A Commission of Daniel Chester French: A Discussion with Harold Holzer

In keeping with the current conversation around public sculpture, monuments, and memorials,, historian Harold Holzer will discuss the context, as well as the development and sculpting of the Four Continents Statues of the U.S. Custom House in New York City. Holzer will discuss Daniel Chester French’s design as representative of 20th century America, his work with the Piccirilli sculptors, and the influence of Cass Gilbert, the building’s architect, on the Statues. After a presentation by Harold Holzer, there will be a moderated Q&A by Dr. Chris Baron, Columbia University.

Flanking the main entrance to the landmark Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, The Four Continents Statues, representing Asia, America, Europe and Africa, are prime examples of the City Beautiful movement and national pride during the early 20th century. Their grandeur, stature and symbolism originally branded the building for the business of the custom agency. With changes in tenancy and a major restoration in the 1980s, the building now houses a diverse range of tenants, from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, National Archives, Bankruptcy Courts, to numerous other federal agencies.

This program is presented in partnership with the current stewards of the building, the U.S. General Services Administration, and tenants of the building: The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, NYC, and the National Archives at New York City, as well as Chesterwood – A site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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