General Grant National Memorial
Dedicated in 1897, the General Grant National Memorial is the largest mausoleum in America. Its sheer size reflects the immense reverence Americans felt for this former general and president, who was considered the savior of the Union. Through major battlefield victories—including those at Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Vicksburg and Chattanooga—he changed the tide of the Civil War in the Union’s favor.
After the war he was elected president, advocating amnesty for Confederate leaders and protection for freed African-Americans. At his death, Grant was almost universally respected by both Northerners and Southerners. Architect John Duncan based his design on Mausoleus’ Tomb at Halicarnassus of 350 B.C. The structure rises 150 feet from a bluff overlooking the Hudson River. It was built between 1891 and 1897, utilizing the labor of hundreds of men and over 8,000 tons of granite. Two exterior figures, probably personifying Victory and Peace, support a plaque reading “Let Us Have Peace.” The interior is of Carrara and Lee marbles. Allegorical reliefs on the vaulting represent Grant’s birth, military life, civilian career and death. Grant’s wife, Julia Dent Grant, who died in 1902, is also buried in the crypt.
The bronze busts in the crypt, sculpted under the Work Projects Administration in 1938, portray some of Grant’s best generals—Sherman, Sheridan and MacPherson among them. Exhibits depict Grant’s role as general and president, and guided tours are available.
The colorful tile-mosaic outdoor seating that encircles the tomb is the result of a 1970s community beautification project. The site is administered by the National Park Service. A park pavilion, across West Riverside Drive from the the Tomb, will be renovated in Spring 2010 and offer an overlook and park programs for the public.