NYC Oddities: Lenin Statue

If you’re walking east on Houston Street and happen to look up, you might see an unexpected sight. Perched high above the neighborhood on the roof of the Red Square Apartments is a large statue of Vladimir Lenin, his arm stretched out in his signature pose, a personification of the Communist slogan, “Onward toward a brighter tomorrow!”

The statue sits atop one of the first luxury apartment towers in the area, a somewhat ironic home for the father of the worker’s revolution. Red Square Apartments were built in 1989 by a radical sociology professor-turned-real estate developer, and the 18-foot-tall statue was added in 1994. ¬†According to the New York Times, the statue was made by Russian artist Yuri Gerasimov and¬†commissioned by the Soviet government. Since the USSR collapsed soon after, the statue was never publicly displayed. It was found by the developer’s art dealer associates at a dacha outside of Moscow and brought to NYC.

Lenin holds court over an area that has experienced unprecedented levels of economic urban renewal (or, aggressive gentrification, depending on whom you ask), with luxury hotels, fine dining establishments and cocktails bars filling the crumbling buildings once occupied by artists and squatters more than 30 years ago. Though it’s retained a bit of grit, the neighborhood has been and continues to be a place governed by market forces and the growing wealth of the city’s inhabitants. Not sure Comrade Lenin would be too pleased with his adopted home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(Image via wfyurasko, Flickr.com; made available under Creative Commons license)

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