The Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston will host award-winning author and historian Louis L. Picone for a live virtual lecture on Wednesday, March 31, at 7 p.m. as part of the Follow the River Lecture Series sponsored by Rondout Savings Bank.
Picone’s talk, “Ulysses S. Grant’s Tomb: The Monument on the Hudson,” is based on his new book, Grant’s Tomb: The Epic Death of Ulysses S. Grant and the Making of an American Pantheon, which was published in February.
Picone charts the history of the largest tomb in America. Completed in 1897, it took 12 years to build amid controversy about where the former president’s body should be interred. The white neoclassical style mausoleum is highly visible from the Hudson River, making it an instant landmark for steamboat tourists.
After it was dedicated, Grant’s Tomb was the second most popular attraction in New York City rivaled only by the Statue of Liberty.
But it is now widely forgotten from public memory except for the Groucho Marx gag, “Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb?”
Its popularity hit rock bottom by the 1960s when it became one of the most dangerous tourist locations in New York City, more popular with drug addicts, prostitutes and gang members than tourists.
After public calls to repair the damage from years of neglect, Grant’s Tomb was finally restored in the mid-1990s by the National Park Service.
Tickets are $5 for the general public and free for Hudson River Maritime Museum members. For more information and to register, visit www.hrmm.org/lecture-series.