Just off the path at the intersection of East Drive and Terrace Drive obscured by the thick brush most of the year is an empty pedestal, a tribute to one of the most unique men in city history; Thaddeus Griffin – New York’s Invisible Man.
Thaddeus Griffin was born to wealthy parents Thomas and Henrietta Griffin in an upper west side hospital on March 3, 1840. The eight pound baby boy was very healthy according to attending doctors, and aside from the child being completely invisible, the birth was rather uneventful.
Thomas Griffin welcomed the challenge of raising an invisible son since he often bragged of having a large group of imaginary friends, so he figured this was the same thing. Wife Henrietta was at first reluctant to raise a child she couldn’t see, but changed her mind when her loving husband promised his friends would help out.
Despite being invisible Thaddeus was a very well adjusted boy. He was quite popular in school, and loved to play games with his friends after class. Young Thaddeus was especially proud of his undefeated record in Hide and Seek, a game he excelled at.
By the 1890s Griffin was a respected businessman and a highly regarded and upstanding member of New York society. Reporters and writers from all over the world lined up to interview the charming and humble invisible man, including British author H.G. Wells, who was anxious to write a biography about the life of this amazing invisible man.
Unfortunately, Wells’ biography of invisible humanitarian Thaddeus Griffin became the 1897 novel The Invisible Man, the story of an invisible psychopath named Griffin who terrorizes England while seeking a cure for his condition.
Heartbroken that his life became fodder for a trashy science fiction tome, Griffin retired from public life, vowing never to speak to anyone again. Despite their efforts to track down an invisible person who was now mute, Griffin’s friends were never able to find out what happened to him.
They dedicated the statue in his honor at a small ceremony in 1901, hoping Griffin was there to see if they captured his likeness properly.