Even before “Civic Virtue” was unveiled in 1922, there were protests against it. The immense statue, installed in City Hall Park, featured a naked, hulking man representing virtue, standing atop nude female figures, representing vice.
Women’s groups protested the symbolism. Later, art critics lamented the inelegance of the work. Time healed no wounds. Politicians, most prominently Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia, griped about being mooned each day on the way to work.
For years, there were efforts to exile the sculpture: the Bronx, Brooklyn and Randalls Island were all considered. But the piece was finally carted off to Kew Gardens, Queens, where it has decayed outside Borough Hall for the past 70 years, enduring, every few decades, another bout of criticism that it was ugly and sexist.