Juan Pablo Duarte
Sixth Avenue, between Canal and Grand
This statue of Juan Pablo Duarte, one of the founders of the Dominican Republic and the possessor of the bushiest eyebrows south of Houston, is in a triangular paved area along Sixth Avenue between Canal and Grand, right near the entrance to the Holland Tunnel. Duarte’s statue is one of six commemorating historical figures from the Americas along the avenue from SoHo to Central Park.
Duarte faces to the south, across Canal Street. He is depicted larger than life, with almost cartoonish features. Chief among them are his caterpillar-esque eyebrows and his excessively cheesy mustache. His right hand is held up close to his chest, clutching a scroll of paper. His left hand rests on a cane. He is wearing a bow tie, vest and suit jacket of 19th century style.
The statue was made by the Italian Nicola Arrighini. It is a gift of the Dominican Republic to the people of New York City.
The statue was the product of an effort led by Juan Antonio Paulino, who was one of the founders of Instituto Duartiano. Paulino told City College of New York, which houses a collection of his correspondence and other papers, that he got the idea for the statue in 1963. Inspired by the activism of New York’s Puerto Rican community, he formed a group with other Dominicans to publicize Duarte’s life and accomplishments, then started a campaign to build a monument.
By 1971, Paulino’s efforts were recognized by the Dominican Republic, and he was the first to receive the Orden del Merito de Duarte, that country’s highest civilian honor.
The statue of Duarte was dedicated on Jan. 26, 1978. Paulino told C.C.N.Y. that the statue and the formation of the Instituto Duartiano were “my greatest contributions to the Dominican community in the City of New York.”
Juan Pablo Duarte y Diez was born on Jan. 26, 1813, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He led an unsuccessful bid for independence, was exiled and then returned to be the independent republic’s first president. He died July 15, 1876.
In 2005, the triangular park where Duarte resides was redesigned.