Located on the northeast corner of New York’s Central Park at Pioneers’ Gate (at 110th Street and Fifth Avenue), the sculpture of Edward Kennedy Ellington is the first monument in New York City dedicated to an African American and the first memorial to Ellington in the U.S. The monument depicts Ellington standing beside a concert grand, on three tall columns. A the top of each column stand three female figures that represent the muses. The sculpture resides within a multi-leveled semi-circular plaza at the gateway to Harlem. Though not a native New Yorker, it was his time spent in Harlem and the Cotton Club that solidified Duke Ellington’s influence as one of the originators of big-band jazz.
Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974) was an American composer, pianist, and big band leader. Ellington wrote over 1,000 compositions. In the words of Bob Blumenthal of The Boston Globe “In the century since his birth, there has been no greater composer, American or otherwise, than Edward Kennedy Ellington