227 India Street

The Bedi-Makky building at 227 India Street looks like any other ordinary industrial Greenpoint building. However, it was here that the one of the largest bronze sculpture ever cast in human history was made; the famous Iwo Jima Memorial from Arlington National Cemetery was cast at the foundry, but it was no simple job.

Working six days a week for three years, seven local men constructed what was then the world’s largest bronze sculpture. This sculpture was huge: 78 feet high and over 100 tons, but the story of the birth of the iconic statue began many years before because of a legendary picture. A photographer called Joe Rosenthal captured an image of the raising of the stars and stripes after the Americans took Mount Suribachi on the island on February 23, 1945. An Austrian immigrant, Felix Weihs de Weldon, fell in love with the image and decided to create a monumental bronze statue in honor of the Marine Corps. It would take nine years before his vision became a reality.

Beginning in 1945, de Weldon made scores of plaster models based on the photo, enlisting the three surviving Marines to pose for him, while asking other Marines to fill in for those who had died during fighting on the island. De Weldon was forced to alter the composition due to the scale of the sculpture. Helmets and hands were enlarged, arms elevated, and the Marines packed in tighter around the flag pole, all in an attempt to prevent distortion for the viewer on the ground. Finally, when de Weldon’s clay and plaster figures were completed they were shipped in sections to Greenpoint to be cast.

Three years and many thousands of hours of sweaty labor later, the figures were ready to be shipped to Washington. The largest weighed more than 20 tons! In August of 1954 the 108 sections of the Marine Corps Memorial were loaded onto trucks, chained down, and shipped off to Arlington, Virginia for installation. Crowds regularly gathered during the late summer and early autumn to watch workmen assemble the colossal structure. The welding and bolting of the sections were all done from inside, and a small door was built into the cartridge belt of one of the figures allowing workers to move in and out of the bronze soldiers. When they were finished, they welded it shut.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower dedicated the memorial in a ceremony on November 10, 1954, the 179th anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps. The statue instantly became iconic. The foundry also created other iconic sculptures including the bull on Wall Street and the FDNY Memorial near Ground Zero. However, many lifelong Greenpointers do not know the story of how the giant sculpture was cast here in the neighborhood.


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    1. I have original documents on construction of Monument – obtained from Felix DeWeldon bankruptcy in 1995. Would be glad to discuss with you if interested. My goal is for an accurate story be told of the Monument.

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