Posts Tagged ‘Lorelei’

A beautiful Bronx statue of a mythical creature

February 9, 2012

The South Bronx is not where you’d expect to see an ornate white marble monument featuring mermaids, dolphins, nude women, and seashells.

But that’s where you’ll find the Lorelei Fountain, at 161st Street and the Grand Concourse. It honors Heinrich Heine, a 19th century German poet who immortalized the mythical creature Lorelei in a poem.

“According to legend, the maiden was transformed into a siren after throwing herself into the [Rhine] river,” states the website for Joyce Kilmer Park, where the statue is located.

“She could be heard singing from a rock along the river, her voice hypnotizing sailors to sleep, and then to their death. The bas-reliefs around the pedestal include a profile of Heine. Other decorative and allegorical motifs include a frog, a bird, and a skull symbolizing mortality.”

The statue, completed in 1893, (above, in a NYPL digital collection photo) wasn’t intended for the Bronx; it was supposed to go up in Heine’s home city of Dusseldorf.

Declined in part because of anti-Semitism (Heine was Jewish), a group of German-Americans purchased the statue and unveiled it in 1899. It was rededicated, and moved a few blocks away, a century later.