McGown’s Pass, Central Park NYC: Historic Bronze Replication Plaques

Central Park: East Side at 107th Street entrance just south of the Harlem Meer

Masterwork Plaques recently collaborated with the Central Park Conservancy and the NYC Parks Department to recreate a historic commemorative plaque.  Designed and installed just in time for spring of 2015, this custom bronze plaque is an exact replica of the original dedicated in 1906, which was lost sometime in the 1970’s.

2015 Replica of the original McGown's Pass plaque

2015 Replica of the original McGown's Pass plaque

McGown’s Pass (sometimes spelled “McGowan’s”) is a small part of the northeast section of Central Park and is named after the McGown family, who owned a tavern in the area from 1756 until the Revolutionary War.  The plaque commemorates the area’s advantageous position during the British occupation of New York from 1776 to 1783, in addition to its use during the War of 1812, where Fort Clinton was built to better arm and protect the city.  McGown’s Pass is a high-topographical point in the park, and today, a commemorative site (where the newly installed plaque can be found) rests at the high point of the hill. 

McGown's Pass site, Before and After; Black and white photo courtesy of the Central Park Conservancy.

McGown's Pass site, Before and After; Black and white photo courtesy of the Central Park Conservancy.

Masterwork Plaques was able to recreate this custom-shaped plaque from the reference of two black and white photos and an incomplete image of the original design plans.  This was the only remaining evidence of the original plaque’s design.  Using our extensive font library, we were able to design and customize each letter to best imitate the look of the original hand-tooled type.  Masterwork Plaques also modified our lamb’s tongue decorative border to include a sloped and dimensional ogee curve and custom corner details, which were present on the original historic plaque. Custom rosettes were also replicated and hand-carved based on the specifications on the original design plan. 

  Photo of the original plaque, courtesy of the Central Park Conservancy

 

Photo of the original plaque, courtesy of the Central Park Conservancy

Most importantly, when replicating a historic bronze plaque, is to capture the natural aged, antique look of a real chemical patina.  Masterwork Plaques’ offers specialty services from highly skilled artisans who can imitate natural tarnishing, corrosion, and weathering that occurs over time.  A true chemical patina chemically changes the surface color of the bronze, which eliminates the possibility of chipping away or peeling off over time, as occurs with a layer of paint or a stain from imitation patinas.  Oftentimes plaque companies will apply a layer of paint rather than a chemical patina, which is cheaper, but will not last the test of time.

All of these elements were vital to creating an exact replica of this historic bronze plaque. Techniques from this project can be used on any plaque project, whether the goal is to replicate a historic landmark, or to simply add an antique quality to any personal or commercial plaque that may aim to look like it has been in place for decades.  Our studio specializes in these custom design techniques.  Masterwork Plaques came into being from the desire to revolutionize the bronze plaque industry so that each plaque is created with one-of-a-kind designs and materials of the finest quality.