The statue of Alexander Hamilton, located on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall between Arlington and Berkeley Streets, around 1865-1885. Image courtesy of the Boston Public Library.
The statue in 2021:
These two photos show the statue of Alexander Hamilton on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall in Boston. It was the work of artist William Rimmer, and it was commissioned by Thomas Lee, who presented it to the city of Boston as a gift. The statue stands nine feet, four inches tall, and it was carved out of Concord granite. It stands on a base of blue Quincy granite, which also includes a granite plaque featuring profiles of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay.
The statue was unveiled here on August 24, 1865. The public reception was somewhat mixed, with some criticizing the use of granite rather than more conventional materials such as bronze, while others criticized the design itself. Contemporary sculptor Truman Howe Bartlett called it “the indifferent work of a genius, not the consistent labor of talent,” and art critic George B. Woods observed that Hamilton seemed to be “swathed like an infant or a mummy.” Nonetheless, other such as the statue’s benefactor, Thomas Lee, appreciated the design, and the harsh criticism of the statue seemed to soften over time.
Today, the statue still stands here more than 150 years after it was installed. Its surroundings have also seen few changes over the years, and most of the houses from the first photo are still standing today, although they are largely hidden by the trees. Overall, the Back Bay remains a well-preserved example of late 19th century residential architecture, and the tree-lined Commonwealth Avenue Mall is a major centerpiece of the neighborhood.