In Honor of Alexander Lyman Holley
Foremost Among Those Whose Genius and Energy
Established in America and Improved Throughout the World
The Manufacture of Bessemer Steel
This Memorial is Erected by Engineers of Two Hemispheres
Alexander Lyman Holley (1832-1882) was born in Lakeville, Connecticut. His capacity for careful and discriminating observation and his notable drawing talents marked him as an engineer very early in his life. Holley was the first student to graduate from Brown University in engineering, receiving his bachelor of philosophy in 1853. He received fifteen patents and wrote several books and hundreds of articles. Known best for adapting the Bessemer process of steel-making to U.S. needs, Holley had a brilliant and versatile mind. His work immediately brought rapid production to ironworks and rolling mills, along with a high standard of excellence, and his efforts significantly reduced steel prices and enabled unprecedented growth in the industries that moved America forward, including railroads, bridges, and ships.
When Holley died in Brooklyn at age 49, he was engaged in bringing the engineers of the world together by shaping the foundations for several professional societies. Three of these societies jointly raised funds and commissioned this memorial: the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) of which he was the “leading spirit” in its founding; the Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers (AIME) of which he was a past president; and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) of which he was a past vice president. Dedicated on October 2, 1890, Holley’s memorial was given to the City of New York by “the engineers of two hemispheres” and was witnessed by an international group including societies from Germany and France.
John Quincy Adams Ward sculpted the bronze portrait of Holley, which was cast by the Henry-Bonnard Bronze Company of New York in 1889. The bust is mounted on the central pillar of an elaborately carved tripartite pedestal made of Indiana limestone. The pedestal was designed by architect Thomas Hastings. This unusual monument combines the architecture, sculpture, and ornament of the Beaux-Arts style.