Posts Tagged ‘Central Park statues’

The Pilgrim statue standing alone in Central Park

November 23, 2020

Central Park has 29 statues, some popular (like Balto, the hero sled dog) and others more obscure (Fitz-Greene Halleck, anyone?)

But standing high and alone on eponymously named Pilgrim Hill is a statue of a Pilgrim, one of the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620 from England seeking religious freedom in the New World.

“An early American settler stands confidently with one hand leaning on the muzzle of a flintlock musket,” writes, describing the statue. “On the pedestal beneath him are four bas reliefs referencing the era—including the Mayflower—as well as an inscription: “To commemorate the Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers on Plymouth Rock: December 21, 1620.”

The bronze statue, by John Quincy Adams Ward, was commissioned and dedicated here in July 1885 by the New England Society to mark the group’s 75th anniversary, according to NYC Parks. (A procession heading to the site passed President Grant’s house on East 66th Street, and an ill Grant saluted from his window, newspaper accounts noted.)

Whatever one thinks about early settlers to America these days, it’s worth noting that this year marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Pilgrims.

With Thanksgiving days away, consider heading over the Pilgrim Hill and seeing this mostly forgotten figure. The bas reliefs of the Mayflower and other symbols tell more of the Pilgrims’ story.

[Top photo:]

Central Park’s hidden Alice in Wonderland statue

September 24, 2012

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.

The controversial founder of Women’s Hospital

February 13, 2012

At the time of his death in 1893, there was no controversy at all: Dr. J. Marion Sims was heralded as a surgical pioneer and a hero—thought of so highly, a statue memorializing him went up a year later in Bryant Park.

Sims’ achievement: He developed an operation that repaired vesico-vaginal fistulas—tears in the vaginal wall that often resulted during childbirth.

Women who suffered from them became invalids and outcasts because the tear allowed urine to leak constantly from the body. They’re unheard of now, except in the developing world.

After perfected his technique in the South, Sims came to New York and opened Women’s Hospital in 1855, the first women’s hospital in the country.

“Located on Madison Avenue and 29th Street in a rented, four-story house, the hospital’s 30 beds were quickly filled,” states St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Medical Center, which absorbed Women’s Hospital in 1964.

“In those early days, Sims operated without assistance from other doctors, performing one fistula repair each day.”

Sims shared his technique with doctors worldwide. In New York, Women’s Hospital outgrew its Madison Avenue digs and relocated to Park Avenue and 51st Street, then 109th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.

Today his statue is at Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street. Yet last year, a city councilwoman pushed to have it removed.

Why? Because Sims developed his surgery on female slaves in the South, and he didn’t use anesthesia—and modern-day critics have labeled him as racist and sexist because of this.

[Sims statue: Photo via Central Park Conservatory]

The storyteller of Central Park

April 5, 2010

Danish schoolkids in the 1950s helped raise money to fund this bronze statue of Hans Christian Anderson reading to a duckling in Central Park.

The statue was a gift from a Danish-American organization commemorating the Ugly Ducking writer’s 150th birthday in 1955.

It’s been a kid magnet ever since, especially with the Alice and Wonderland playground right nearby.