Times Square is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world – between 300,000 and 500,000 people are estimated to pass through each day, most of them on foot. How many stop to admire the statue of Father Duffy (for whom the northern triangle of the square is named) on their way to the nearby TKTS booth … or realize his Canadian connection?
Francis Duffy was born in Cobourg, Ontario in 1871. He moved to New York in 1893 and was ordained in 1896.
According to the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation:
Duffy was a military chaplain and priest in the Times Square area. … (His) military service began in the Spanish-American War of 1898, serving as First Lieutenant and chaplain of the legendary Fighting 69th Infantry, serving in Europe during World War I as part of the famed Rainbow Division, and earning a number of medals. After the war ended Father Duffy returned to New York, and in 1920, he was appointed pastor of the Holy Cross Church, located at 237 W 42nd Street. Father Duffy died on June 26, 1932 after serving the theater district community for over a decade. In 1940, veteran character actor Pat O’Brien portrayed Duffy in the Hollywood film based on his life, The Fighting 69th, which also starred James Cagney.
In Charles Keck’s bronze effigy of the soldier-priest, he depicts a stoic Duffy, nearly eight feet tall, in military garb, helmet at his feet and bible in hand. The statue is set on a pedestal backed by a green granite Celtic cross, which is more than 17 feet tall.
For his actions in WW1, Duffy was decorated by the US and French governments, becoming the most highly decorated cleric in US Army history. The statue was unveiled on May 2, 1937. It watches over the square bound by Broadway, 7th Ave, 46th St and 47th St.
I like this pre-dedication photo of the Father Duffy monument by Berenice Abbott.