Hudson River Maritime Museum hosts lecture on Grant’s Tomb

View of Grant’s Tomb from the Hudson, 1909. (Library of Congress)

The Hudson River Maritime Museum will host award-winning author and historian Louis L. Picone for a live virtual lecture on Wednesday, March 31 at  p.m. as part of the Follow the River Lecture Series, sponsored by Rondout Savings Bank.

Picone talk “Ulysses S. Grant’s Tomb: The Monument on the Hudson,” is based on his brand new book, Grant’s Tomb: The Epic Death of Ulysses S. Grant and the Making of an American Pantheon, which was published in February of this year. 

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Picone charts the history of the largest tomb in America. Taking 12 years to build, among controversy about where the former president’s body should be interred, Grant’s Tomb was completed in 1897. The white neoclassical style mausoleum was highly visible from the Hudson River, making it an instant landmark for steamboat tourists.

After it was dedicated it was the most popular attraction in New York City (only rivaled by the Statue of Liberty), but is now widely forgotten from public memory except for the Groucho Marx gag, “Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb?” Its popularity began to fade as the Civil War generation passed away, but by the mid-1960s it hit rock bottom. It became one of the most dangerous tourist locations in New York City – besieged by graffiti and vandalism and more popular with drug addicts, prostitutes, and gang members than tourists. After much neglect and many public calls to repair the damage, Grant’s Tomb was finally restored in the mid-1990s by the National Park Service.

Louis L. Picone is the author of Grant’s Tomb: The Epic Death of Ulysses S. Grant and the Making of an American Pantheon, The President Is Dead! The Extraordinary Stories of the Presidential Deaths, Final Days, Burials, and Beyond and Where the Presidents Were Born: The History & Preservation of the Presidential Birthplaces. Picone is also a trustee on the board of the Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association in Caldwell, NJ and teaches at William Paterson University.

Tickets are $5 for the general public and free for Hudson River Maritime Museum members. Those interested in attending can view upcoming lectures and register at www.hrmm.org/lecture-series

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