Who Was Garibaldi His Statue in Washington Square Park

Who Was Garibaldi?

Since our hotel is just a few steps away from Garibaldi’s statue in Washington Square Park and we walk by it every day, we began to wonder, who exactly was Garibaldi?

Garibaldi Plaza, in Washington Square Park, hosts many events: concerts, dance performance…even yoga classes.

How to find the Statue

You can easily find the square by searching out the bronze statue of Italian patriot and general Giuseppe Garibaldi. The sculpture was erected in 1888 at a westerly-facing spot in the park before it was moved to its current post in 2010. (Didn’t you just love that park renovation?)

Let’s find out who Garibaldi was

Giovanni Turini, a volunteer member of Garibaldi’s regiment during the war between Italy and Austria, designed the monument. Garibaldi was the commander of the insurrection forces in Italy’s struggle for unification. In 1834, he fought in the first republican uprising for independence in Genoa, but after the movement was crushed, Garibaldi fled to South America, where he remained in exile from 1836 to 1848.

Why do we celebrate him in New York?

Garibaldi returned to Italy in 1849 to support the fledgling Roman Republic, led by Giuseppe Mazzini. After the movement was crushed by French forces, Garibaldi fled here to New York!

He worked as a candlemaker and plotted his next military campaign, which, in 1860, was finally successful, so he is considered an Italian hero and dubbed “The Sword of Italian Unification”!

The statue was donated to the park by New York’s wonderful Italian-American community.

Funny enough, NYU’s finance students started a crazy ritual in the 1960s. Each year new students in the School of Finance tossed a penny at the base of the Garibaldi monument for good luck at the start of the school year.

We’re not sure if that tradition still exists today, but we sure hope so.

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