Central Park’s hidden Alice in Wonderland statue

You’ve likely passed New York’s most famous Alice: an 11-foot bronze of the Mad Hatter, the Dormouse, and other characters from Lewis Carroll’s classic.

This kid-friendly statue been at 74th Street on the east side of Central Park since 1959.

But there’s a lesser-known homage to Alice that predates the bronze sculpture by 23 years. It’s tucked inside Levin Playground a few minutes away.

Once a drinking fountain but since 1987 refitted with sprinklers, this granite statue features Alice, the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, and the Duchess.

The characters might look familiar: They were designed by the same sculptor whose animal depictions grace the Central Park Zoo.

Why two homages to Alice in one park? I’m not sure, but the fountain was dedicated to Sophie Irene Loeb, founder of the Child Welfare Board of New York City.

Loeb (left) spent her life helping city kids, building bath houses, implementing school lunch programs, supporting housing reform, and creating recreational opportunities in Central Park.

Alice also lives underground at the 50th Street subway station on the 1 train.

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4 Responses to “Central Park’s hidden Alice in Wonderland statue”

  1. Ryan Says:

    My son, just a little guy still at 1.5, loves to play in this fountain. I had no idea how old it really was till I saw this post. It was a huge hit with him this summer.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    I saw lots of little kids who looked about 1.5 toddling around it when I took the photos. But then, nothing’s as fun as a spray of water when you’re that age!

  3. Jules Says:

    Re: the sculptor — The Central Park & NYC parks sites say Paul Manship & Edward Coe Embury did the Lehman gates, but the Sophie Loeb Fountain is by Frederick George Richard Roth.

    http://www.centralparknyc.org/visit/things-to-see/south-end/lehman-gates.html

    http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/centralpark/highlights/8262

    http://www.centralparknyc.org/visit/things-to-see/great-lawn/sophie-loeb-fountain.html

    http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/centralpark/highlights/12729

    Here’s a great site on sculpture in Manhattan, though I can’t speak to its accuracy. It certainly seems thorough, though!

    http://www.forgottendelights.com/NYCsculpture/NYCSculptureIndex.htm#Central_Park

  4. mellowvision Says:

    there’s an awesome book about this statue and some of the others in Central Park, called Alice in Central Park, Statues in Wonderland… great read. very cool photos and info… http://fotobs.com/alice-central-park-statues-wonderland/

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