The five real-women statues in all of New York

Call it a statue gender imbalance: Out of the 150 or so historical statues in all five boroughs, only five depict real women.

They’re an eclectic bunch. Joan of Arc has been on her stallion in Riverside Park (at right) since 1915; Golda Meir went up at Broadway and 39th Street in 1984.

Gertrude Stein was immortalized in bronze in Bryant Park in 1992 (below). A pensive Eleanor Roosevelt has stood tall in Riverside Park since 1996.

And in 2008, Harriet Tubman was unveiled at 122nd Street and Frederick Douglas Boulevard.

Of course, it makes sense that there’s a male-female statue ratio. Right or wrong, history tends to remember and honor individual men over women.

And most of these monuments were planned and dedicated decades, even a century ago.

It’s not like casts of the female form barely exist in New York. Thing is, they’re typically fictional characters (like Mother Goose and Alice in Wonderland in Central Park) or symbolic figures (such as the most famous of all, Lady Liberty).

Here’s the tragic story of one beautiful turn-of-the-century New York girl who posed for dozens of symbolic statues.

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8 Responses to “The five real-women statues in all of New York”

  1. Jeff Says:

    That Joan of Arc statue is part of a wave of Joan-adoration that rose in France in the late 19th century (when France really needed a national hero) and hit American shores through the early 20th. Mark Twain, who typically hated all things medieval, loved her, and D.C. and St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans (and probably other places in the U.S.) accepted gifts of statues of her from the French well into the 1920s. It’s hard to overstate what a big deal she was in American culture for several decades, even among non-Catholics.

  2. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    The Golda Meir statue on Broadway and 39th Street went up on the site of the old Metropolitan Opera House which was torn down in the 60s and moved up to Lincoln Center. There was some controversy when the statue went up but don’t recall what it was.

  3. Lee Gelber Says:

    There are 6 missing real women statues missing from your list
    1. Mother Sarah Hale
    2. Mother Rosetta Gaston (the only one outside of Manhattan)
    3. Ethel Barrymoore
    4. Marilyn Miller
    5. Mary Pickford
    6.Rosa Ponselle
    An interesting sidebar – the sculptor of Joan of Arc, Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington did other heroic figures – El Cid at Audubon Terrace and Jose Marti on Central Park South & 6th Avenue

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks for your more complete list. I should have clarified that I meant statues in city parks/squares or on/near city buildings. The Mother Gaston statue sounds like it qualifies (I can’t find a link to an image, strangely) but since the others are on private property, I didn’t count them. But they are definitely worth noting.

    The last four on your list are on the wonderful Show Folks Shoe Shop building in Times Square, hidden behind a TGIF:

  5. SK Says:

    I don’t know if busts count as statues, but there are several women honored at the Hall of Fame for Great Americans in the Bronx, such as Susan B. Anthony, Jane Addams and Harriet Beecher Stowe. They’re still greatly outnumbered by men, but the proportion is slightly better.

  6. wildnewyork Says:

    I keep meaning to go up there and see the Hall of Fame. I’m curious about which 19th and early 20th century figures are there who have been forgotten.

  7. Quid plura? | “She shouldn’t oughta try to be that way…” Says:

    […] War I only gouged Joan further in American culture: She was immortalized on the Hudson in 1915, beloved by readers of Lucy Foster Madison’s 1918 novel (with its gorgeous Frank Schoonover […]

  8. Bits of Medieval France in the Joan of Arc statue | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] incredibly, it was the first statue in the city that honored a real, nonfictional woman (as opposed to the Statue of Liberty or Mother […]

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