Statue Gets Around

Published November 11, 2005, issue of November 11, 2005.
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Haym Salomon wouldn’t budge. At least a Los Angeles statue of him wouldn’t.For the third time in 62 years, a statue devoted to the Jewish merchant who helped finance the Revolutionary War was being relocated, but this time around it was reluctant to make the move.

Officials thought that shifting the 12-and-a-half-ton figure from its erstwhile perch in a courtyard at the West Wilshire Recreation Center to a new home on a busy street corner near Pan Pacific Park would take no more than a half hour, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times. Instead, the job took no fewer than four hours and required the help of a 200-ton crane to complete.

The work of sculptor Robert Paine — a descendant of Thomas Paine — the 13-foot statue was commissioned and paid for by a Jewish-led group, the Haym Salomon Day Committee.

It was first installed at Hollenbeck Park on January 6, 1944, as a centerpiece for a World War II bond drive organized by the committee.

But as the Jewish community began leaving the neighborhood, Salomon followed suit. In 1951, the statue was moved to a corner of MacArthur Park, where it was rededicated in a ceremony emceed by the vaudevillian entertainer George Jessel.

The westward migration continued a few decades later. At the urging of Jewish leaders and at the expense of Jewish organizations, the city agreed in 1984 to move the Salomon monument to the new community center being built at the West Wilshire Recreation Center.

A financial broker who worked in New York and later Philadelphia, the Polish-born Salomon assisted the Continental Congress by selling government securities to raise Revolutionary War funds from such lenders as Holland, Spain and France. At one point, he was arrested by the British on charges of espionage and sabotage for supposedly plotting to destroy English ships and burn warehouses near New York.

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