The New York Times reported in its Monday, Sept. 17, 2007, editions that the famous monument to the eccentric publisher James Gordon Bennett, pictured above (from the parks department's Web site), is in the midst of the most extensive restoration "in its 66-year history, a $200,000 effort that left [it] shrouded in scaffolding for four months." The staff writer Glen Collins wrote:
For years, the monument — at the north end of the triangular park, which runs from 34th to 35th Streets between Broadway and the Avenue of the Americas — has been a destination. Tourists wait patiently for the bell-ringers to swivel into action, just as visitors do at the famous mechanical clocks of Europe.
Among the city’s park monuments, the swinging clockwork figures “are unique,” Mr. Kuhn said. Although the Delacorte Clock near the Children’s Zoo in Central Park has whimsical monkeys that also appear to strike a bell, “it’s hard to think of another monument with such large human figures that twist and torque and strike,” Mr. Kuhn said of the Bennett monument.
Several years ago, as the wobbly westernmost blacksmith began actually striking the bell, “we were worried the statues could fall or come loose,” said Phyllis Samitz Cohen, director of the Adopt-a-Monument/Mural program of the nonprofit Municipal Art Society, which coordinated the conservation work. ...[stuff deleted]
...The entire monument was de-pigeoned, then the bronze was cleaned and recoated with new patina. This layer was restored by heating the bronze with a torch, then using spray bottles of brown, green and red chemicals to apply the new finish, which imparted color as it evaporated.
“You have to heat the bronze to the perfect point where it won’t bubble the patina,” said Philip Naudé, a bronze conservator who is the project manager for Wilson Conservation in Brooklyn. “We do it all by eye.”
The restorers have cleaned 6,000 square feet of granite and repointed the masonry joints, and repairs to the bell-ringing and clock components are nearing completion. The monument’s mechanism “is complex, with three separate units that regulate the time, the strike and the figures that move,” said Mr. Schneider, the clockmaster, who said that he, like the other conservators, has been unable to determine the origin of the nicknames Stuff and Guff.
He added of the mechanism, “It all has to be synchronized, and when we change something, we have to coordinate everything.” The bell may ring again as early as this week.Some readers can see the whole article here.