83 Year Old Video of Independence Flagstaff Commemoration Restored

1930 Flag Staff dedication.  Historic Video restored with funds from the Union Square Partnership.

1930 Flag Staff dedication in Union Square Park. Historic video restored with funds from the Union Square Partnership.

Independence flagstaff is celebrating its 83rd birthday in Union Square Park today.  Now you can see the commemoration of the flagstaff 30 years ago with a recently restored video of the ceremony featured on the NYC Parks Department website.  The Independence Flagstaff dedication was shot on July 4, 1930 and restored by the Department with the financial support of the Union Square Partnership.

Check out the unveiling of the Independence Flagstaff (Charles F. Murphy Memorial) at the center of Union Square at the time of its reconfiguration and renovation completed in late 1930. The film was taken on behalf of the sculptor of the bronze reliefs, Anthony De Francisi (1887-1964), and was given to New York City Parks & Recreation by Francisi’s daughter Gilda Slate. The flagstaff at the center of Union Square Park commemorates the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.The intricate base reliefs and plaques were completed in 1926 by sculptor Anthony De Francisci (1887–1964), and feature a procession of allegorical figures representing democracy and tyranny, the text of the Declaration of Independence, and emblems from the original 13 colonies. The enormous flagpole, said to be one of the largest in New York State, is capped with a gilded sunburst.

The Independence Flagstaff was a gift of the Tammany Society, and replaced a flagstaff built during the tenure of Tammany president Charles F. Murphy (1858–1924), a boss in the infamous political machine. After Murphy’s death, Tammany supporters wanted to dedicate this bigger and better flagstaff to Murphy. Public sentiment prevented honoring a symbol of Tammany corruption in a manner commensurate with Lincoln and Washington at Union Square Park, and by the time the Murphy Flagpole was dedicated on July 4, 1930, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, it was referred to as the Independence Flagstaff. The flagstaff has been restored extensively through the years, most recently in 1987 when the stone pedestal was renovated and the flagpole reinstalled.  Just earlier this week, the Parks Department was out in force to clean the flagstaff just in time for Independence Day.  Check out the staff’s intricate and symbolic details today when you parade into Union Square Park to celebrate your independence.

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