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Lincoln High School
60 Crescent Avenue
Bergen-Lafayette

by Cynthia Harris

 

Lincoln High School
Postcard circa 1920
Courtesy, Jersey City Free Public Library

Lincoln High School
Photo, A. Selvaggio, 2003


Lincoln High School was named for the sixteenth president of the United States and opened in 1913. It became the second public high school in Jersey City and was started to accommodate the overcrowded conditions in the City High School (now Dickinson High School). The new high school initially occupied the abandoned Hasbrouck Institute building, formerly used as the Lyceum School started by William L. Dickinson in 1837. In 1915, Frank Hague, Commissioner of Public Safety, considered closing the school building and other schools buildings as a potential fire hazard to the student population. The outcome of this concern was the current high school building erected in 1917; an extension was added a number of years later.

To honor its namesake, a bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln, "The Railsplitter," by Archimedes Giacomantonio was commissioned. It was cast by the Cellini Bronze Works in Brooklyn, NY, and was placed on a marble base in the high school lobby in the late 1930s. The statue portrays a seated figure of "a young Lincoln--sitting on logs, reading a book with a hatchet at his back" (Ken Thorbourne, Jersey Journal, February 5, 2004). Giacomantonio is also responsible for the sculpture of Christopher Columbus at Journal Square dedicated in 1950.

Over the years, the statue has received homage from the high school's students. Members of the athletic teams have been known to rub the head of the statue hoping to insure victory, and fraternities have had students kiss the statue as part of a pledge ritual. In 1994, the high school's "lucky charm" was stolen from the lobby and wound up in an antique store. After reports of its location to local authorities, "The Railsplitter" was returned to the high school and re-installed in January 2004.

Reference:
Thorbourne, Ken. "Statue's Back at Lincoln High." Jersey Journal 5 February 2004.

By: Carmela Karnoutsos
Project Administrator: Patrick Shalhoub