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Interpreting the Evidence

Washington Arch, New York City, c. 1900

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:


  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    New York City
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Washington Arch, New York City, c. 1900 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
The Washington Arch in Washington Square, New York City. Photograph taken circa 1900.
Historical Context
As part of the 1889 centennial celebration of Washington's inauguration as president of the United States, a temporary wooden memorial arch was constructed on Fifth Avenue just north of Washington Square in New York City. The arch was so well liked that a marble version was built in Washington Square.  Construction of the new arch began in 1890 and was completed in the spring of 1895.  The marble arch, designed by Stanford White, is seventy-seven feet tall.  Sculptures of Washington as general and president were added in 1916 and 1918.
Essential Question
How do symbols unite people?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain how this monument unites the American people.
Historical Challenges
Research all the different statues and landmarks that represent George Washington and create a map that identifies each location. Remember to create a key.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: How many inches tall is the Washington Arch?
Art & Science: Where does marble come from? What properties of marble make it a good material for sculptures and monuments? Compare its advantages and disadvantages to those of the granite used in the front staircase of the New York State Capitol.
English Language Arts: Was George Washington more important to the United States as a general or as president? Write a persuasive speech explaining your opinion.