Statues Of The US President In London: Can You Name All Eight?

By M@ Last edited 18 months ago

Last Updated 07 November 2022

Statues Of The US President In London: Can You Name All Eight?

London has yet to be blessed with a Donald Trump statue. Oh, there's the inflatable Trump baby, no end of street art, and probably a burning effigy or ten every 5 November. But no statue.

Such things are not unprecedented. Six of his predecessors are commemorated in public or semi-public spaces — two of them, twice. Here they are, in presidential order.

1st President, George Washington

Image by Carolyn Gifford, creative commons licence.

Washington stands proud to the right of the National Gallery’s main entrance. The first POTUS rests his left hand on a bundle of 13 rods, which represent the 13 original states. The whole ensemble rests on a ploughshare to emphasise the pastoral foundations of the country. Unveiled in 1921, it is one of many bronze replicas of a famous 18th Century marble. Legend has it that Washington stands on earth brought over from America, as the big man vowed never to stand on English soil. Sadly, we can't find any mention of this in the archives.

16th President, Abraham Lincoln

Image by lutefisk73, creative commons licence.

The anti-slavery pres is immortalised in Parliament Square. The bearded one is depicted rising from his chair, seemingly contemplating a leap from the plinth. Abe came to Westminster in 1920, just a year before Washington. The statue is modelled on a famous original in Lincoln Park, Chicago. Another likeness of the president emerges from rock at the eastern end of the Royal Exchange. Unveiled in 1930, it is the work of Andrew O'Connor.

32nd President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Image by Loco Steve, creative commons licence.

From his lofty perch, a cloaked FDR commands Grosvenor Square like an aged Batman. The war president was placed here in 1948 by his widow Eleanor, close to the US Embassy (lately moved to Nine Elms). We should be grateful. His installation coincided with this huge square opening as a public park, where previously it was gated for residents.

Image by a_marga, creative commons licence.

Roosevelt is repeated a short walk away on New Bond Street. Here, we find the ailing president seated on a bench in conversation with Winston Churchill. Named 'Allies', the sculpture has become something of a tourist attraction, with a tempting space between the two great men. Just look how shiny their knees are. We've spotted a copy of the sculpture up in Hampstead.  

34th President Dwight D Eisenhower

A further facsimile president in Grosvenor Square is this superb monument to the great general and reasonably great president, who lived close by during WWII. With hands on hips, high-waisted action slacks and a distant gaze, Dwight D cuts a dashing figure. The metal man dates to 1989, and was unveiled, appropriately, by the Iron Lady, Maggie Thatcher.

35th President John F Kennedy

Eisenhower's successor — who also lived in London for a short time — has his own memorial on Marylebone Road. The copper bust, by Jacques Lipchitz, was installed in 1965, not long after the president's untimely death. Sadly, the bust was recently removed for conservation following an act of vandalism.

40th President Ronald Reagan

Actor-turned-statesman Ronald Reagan is the most recent president to be commemorated with a permanent memorial in London. The 10 foot Republican was unveiled in Grosvenor Square in 2011, to mark the centenary of his birth.

Six of the 44 individuals to serve as president have a London statue. That's 13.6% (in case you care, the figure for Prime Ministers is 18.5%).

The new embassy near Vauxhall presents the perfect opportunity for a seventh plinthed POTUS. Woodrow Wilson? Thomas Jefferson? Barack Obama? Only time will tell who our next resident president will be. Not this fellow:

Images by the author unless otherwise cited.