Eventually in 1869, the park became the town commons and the site of several important monuments. In the southwestern part of the park stands the “Wars of America” bronze monument by Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mount Rushmore. The sculpture, erected in 1926, eight years after the end of World War I, features forty-two people and two horses and was intended to honor all of America’s war victims. The sculpture was added to the National Register of Historic Places in October 1994. The sculpture also formed the base of a large concrete sword fountain built into the ground. At its tip, a bust of John F. Kennedy by Jacques Lipchitz was erected in 1965. Around the park also exists an old drinking fountain and statues of Frederick Frelinghuysen and Philip Kearny.
Yet over time, the grandeur of Military Park slowly declined, and the site fell into disuse, becoming known for its dangerous and unsafe conditions that warded off visitors even during the best days of summer.
Then in 2003, the tides began to turn for Military Park. Biederman Redevelopment Ventures, the group credited with energizing New York City’s Bryant Park, was hired to analyze and make recommendations for the redesign and programming of Military Park, which included an analysis of existing conditions, recommendations for physical design changes and in-park programs, the preparation of expense and revenue budgets for the redeveloped park, and suggestions as to how to implement the plan.
Beginning in February 2010, BRV began the process of implementing the proposed changes. With the MCJ-Amelior Foundation, the Prudential Foundation, and the City of Newark, BRV co-founded the Military Park Partnership, the nonprofit corporation created to develop and operate the revitalized Military Park.
BRV assembled a design team and construction plans for the revitalization, and broke ground on May 28th of 2013. Construction is scheduled to be finished by fall, with new programs starting up in spring 2014.