We document the legacy of important historical figures in several ways, the main ones being public statues and monuments. Like all other works of art, statues can tell us a lot about the values of the society in which we live. Whether it’s evoking a patriotic dedication to freedom with works like the Statue of Liberty, a commitment to racial justice and equality with depictions of activists like Martin Luther King, Jr., or simply military prowess with memorials to Revolutionary War heroes like Casimir Pulaski, monuments serve as a unique way to communicate values through the ages. (These are greatest generals in american history.)
A lot of work goes into creating a monument. Individuals, groups or government agencies wishing to commission one must find a site, hire an artist, choose a material (the most common include bronze, concrete and stone), jump through endless bureaucratic hoops, manage construction and of course find a way to pay for everything. In other words, it’s a great honor for someone to go through all of this to pay your respects.
With this in mind, it’s no surprise that certain monuments have become hot topics in recent years. Many have called for statues depicting slave owners, Confederate soldiers, and other figures with problematic histories to be toppled, and in many cases this has been accomplished.
To compile a list of people — American and otherwise — with the most monuments named after them in the United States, 24/7 Tempo looked at the National Monument Audit, a study funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The report contains a universe of more than 481,000 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial records of monuments across the country. Some of the most important landmarks on our resulting list are no longer in place, but they remain famous (or infamous), and therefore worthy of inclusion.
Click here to see the 28 people honored with the most statues in America
There are approximately 50,000 public statues and monuments in the United States, each with a unique story to tell. Despite the long list of possible candidates, some names keep coming up – some represented by more than 100 monuments, and some attracting millions of visitors a year. (These are the 30 most popular landmarks in america.)