‘Miss Brooklyn’ statue back in front of Manhattan Bridge — and now it lights up and spins!

Hey ladies: The beloved “Miss Brooklyn” statue — and her rival “Miss Manhattan” — are back at the entrance of the Manhattan Bridge.
Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

The girls are back in town!

The city has finally replaced the “Miss Brooklyn” and “Miss Manhattan” statues that graced the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge for the first half of the 20th century — unveiling rotating, light-up replicas at Flatbush Avenue and Tillary Street on Wednesday morning, as first reported by the New York Times.

New York’s master builder Robert Moses banished the iconic sculptures in the 1960s because he thought they only got in the way of traffic, said the artist behind the new effigies, but today we rightfully put such public artworks up on a pedestal — in this case, literally!

“Robert Moses saw those sculptures as being an impediment to progress, and the new urban plan is thinking that art is something that would create or enhance an area,” said Brian Tolle. “I’ve been getting e-mails from people who live in the area and are saying, ‘Yay they’re here, I’m so happy, they’re beautiful.’”

Like the original idols — now housed at the Brooklyn Museum — chilled out “Miss Brooklyn” is depicted next to a tree and a child reading a book, while the more hoighty-toighty “Miss Manhattan” sits with her foot on a chest next to a peacock.

But there are also some big differences — the first editions are granite and sat on either side of the once-grand entrance to the bridge, while the new iterations are cast in a gleaming white acrylic and are located on top of a 24-foot pillar sticking out of a median, where they slowly spin around and emanate light at night.

In a troubling development, that means the figures sometimes look toward Manhattan, where they were previously posed permanently in the correct position — with their backs turned on the outer borough.

It’s no surprise then that some patriotic Brookylnites are unsure what to make of these new versions — one said it’s yet to be seen whether they’re great works of art or just gimmicks.

“This may prove to just be one of those stupid things or it could be kind of exciting, fun, and entertaining for the community — I’m hoping it’s the latter,” said Otis Pearsall, a Brooklyn Heights preservationist who sat on a panel that originally approved the project.

The $450,000 project has been in the works for a decade, but was held up waiting for the necessary city approval to install the statues in the middle of heavily-congested thoroughfare, according to Tolle.

“That location is one of the most complicated locations around,” he said.

The new iterations have been in storage for the past two years, waiting for reconstruction of the gateway to the bridge to finish.

But the delays ended up working in the project’s favor, because in the meantime, people invented better-looking, longer-lasting light bulbs and acrylic materials than Tolle had originally planned on using.

“Because we had so many years, different technologies have come into common usage,” he said. “Sometimes things that take a long time benefit from having a long time.”

Local business group the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership will maintain the statues, a task that will involve periodically scrubbing them with soap and water, and replacing the motors every five years and the lights every 40,000 hours, the artist said.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Tyler from pps says:
That photo is evidence of how crappy this city (and really our whole country is) when it comes to aesthetics and quality. Just look at the haphazard street signs, stop lights, street lights, etc.

It's not that it's just ugly -- it makes it more difficult to navigate (driver, pedestrian, cyclist). It's actually pretty shameful.

This is a major thoroughfare leading to one of our major river crossings. In any northern European country, this wouldn't even be acceptable during construction/renovation. Never mind permanently.

I like the sculptures, but as-is, they are just another piece of random clutter.
Dec. 22, 2016, 10:24 am
Rob from Williamsburg says:
Public art is inherently difficult. It’s impossible to please everybody. The projects are juried by art professionals, government officials, neighborhood business leaders, and representatives from the local community board. Many public artworks take over a decade to complete, and the artists garner only a modest sum. I champion Percent for Art and the DOT for commissioning this sculpture by Brian Tolle. It resurrects what Robert Moses destroyed when the BQE tore through Brooklyn. One upon a time, New Yorkers celebrated their bridges by placing monuments at their entrances. Public structures were adorned with eye pleasing awe-inspiring ornaments. Much of this has been sacrificed in the name of speed, and we take our infrastructure and public buildings for granted. Before this sculpture was installed, I had never known about the history of the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan bridge. Slow down everybody. Put down your device. Be thrilled by this wonderful piece of public art and the extraordinary city we call home.
Dec. 23, 2016, 10:48 am
olds time brooklyn from slope says:
and who of was born and raised in Brooklyn?
Dec. 27, 2016, 12:33 am
Samir Kabir from downtown says:
Where are the Mr. Brooklyn and Mr. Manhattan statues? Bogus.
Dec. 28, 2016, 6:52 am
Kirby from Fort Greene says:
I see the statues on my walk to work every morning. They look like cheap gaudy plastic statues perched on top of a lazy Susan. Totally out of place. Spinning round and round.

They light up like Christmas ornaments at night.

How did this cost $450,000? LOL.

The Percent for Art program is a total waste of city funds when the cities infrastructures are falling apart.

The statues over look Tillary Street which is in horrid condition. It's decaying and dangerous. The street is in desperate need of a total repair.

But let's spent $450K on a couple of statues. LOL

I bet the homeless women in the shelter up the block appreciate these awe-inspiring ornaments.

The list goes on, and on, and on...

These statues do zero to fix the dire conditions that need to be improved before we can even think about over spending money on things that make a few rich people feel warm and fuzzy about where they live.
Dec. 29, 2016, 6:41 pm
UFO from Vinergar Hill says:
What community meeting?

These statues are creepy and look like a scene from Ghostbusters. they need to be temporary as it feels there time has passed and the neighborhood has progressed passed there appreciation period. These statues are a waste of when there are other needed utilities needed in the neighborhood.

Nice statues. As a active member in the community (born and raised) I could think of a lot of things that would be nicer.
Jan. 19, 2017, 4:57 pm

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: