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Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Exploring Central Park's Statues: A Guide to New York City's Iconic Sculptures

  Rajesh Kumar Rana       Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Central Park, a sprawling oasis in the heart of New York City, is not just a haven for stressed urbanites seeking refuge amidst nature. It's also an open-air museum, a place where art and history intertwine with the lush greenery and serene lakes.  Dotted throughout the park's 843 acres are over 100 statues, each with a unique story to tell.

In this guide, we'll take a closer look at some of Central Park's most iconic statues, providing insight into their significance and the stories behind them.

Exploring Central Park's Statues

Alice in Wonderland statues in Central Park, New York City

Here is a list of statues in Central Park, New York City:

1. Alice in Wonderland

Location: North side of Conservatory Pond

Description: This whimsical sculpture, unveiled in 1959, brings Lewis Carroll's beloved characters to life. Designed by Ferando Texidor and sculpted by José de Creeft, the bronze statue depicts Alice, the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, the Dormouse, and the Mad Hatter gathered around a giant mushroom.

2. Statue of Hans Christian Andersen

Location: West side of Conservatory Pond

Description: Dedicated in 1956, this bronze statue honors the Danish fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen. Sculpted by Georg J. Lober, the statue portrays Andersen seated on a bench, feeding a duck, and serves as a tribute to his timeless stories that continue to captivate audiences around the world.

3. Ballplayers House Frieze

Location: North side of Heckscher Ballfields

Description: This frieze celebrates the spirit of athleticism and sportsmanship, depicting scenes of ballplayers engaged in various sports. Created as part of the renovation of Heckscher Ballfields, the frieze pays homage to the park's role as a recreational hub for New Yorkers.

4. Statue of Balto

Location: East 67th St. park entrance and Central Park East Drive

Description: Unveiled in 1925, the Balto statue commemorates the heroic sled dog who led his team through treacherous conditions to deliver diphtheria serum to Nome, Alaska, in 1925. Mounted on natural rock, the bronze statue serves as a reminder of courage and determination in the face of adversity.

5. Bust of Ludwig van Beethoven

Location: West side of The Mall

Description: This bust pays homage to the legendary composer Ludwig van Beethoven, whose timeless music continues to inspire audiences worldwide. Positioned amidst the trees of The Mall, the bust invites visitors to reflect on Beethoven's profound contributions to the world of classical music.

6. Belvedere Castle Cockatrice

Location: Belvedere Castle

Description: Perched atop Belvedere Castle, the Cockatrice serves as a whimsical architectural embellishment, adding charm and character to this iconic Central Park landmark. The mythical creature, with the body of a rooster and the tail of a dragon, adds an element of fantasy to the park's landscape.

7. Bethesda Fountain

Location: Bethesda Terrace

Description: Unveiled in 1873, the Bethesda Fountain is one of Central Park's most iconic landmarks. Designed by Emma Stebbins, the bronze statue atop the fountain, known as the Angel of the Waters, symbolizes purity and healing. Surrounded by cherubs and a reeded bronze basin, the fountain is a testament to the park's beauty and grandeur.

8. Equestrian statue of Simón Bolívar

Location: Bolívar Plaza, Central Park South

Description: This majestic equestrian statue honors Simón Bolívar, the Venezuelan military and political leader who played a central role in the liberation of several South American countries from Spanish rule. Created by sculptor Sally James Farnham, the statue captures Bolívar in a moment of contemplation, his steed rearing up in a gesture of defiance.

9. Arthur Brisbane Memorial

Location: Fifth Ave. opp. 101st St.

Description: This memorial pays tribute to Arthur Brisbane, a prominent newspaper editor and journalist known for his contributions to the field of journalism. The memorial, featuring a bust of Brisbane mounted on a pedestal, serves as a reminder of his legacy and enduring influence on the media landscape.

10. Burnett Memorial Fountain

Location: Conservatory Garden

Description: The Burnett Memorial Fountain, dedicated in memory of author Frances Hodgson Burnett, is a tranquil oasis within the Conservatory Garden. The fountain features a bronze statue of a boy and girl holding a basin, surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens, offering visitors a serene retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.

11. Statue of Robert Burns

Location: Literary Walk, south end of The Mall

Description: This statue honors the Scottish poet Robert Burns, whose lyrical verses continue to resonate with readers around the world. Sculpted by Sir John Steell, the bronze statue depicts Burns in a contemplative pose, with a quill in hand, immortalizing his contributions to literature and culture.

12. Cherry Hill Fountain

Location: Cherry Hill, south of The Lake

Description: The Cherry Hill Fountain, nestled amidst cherry blossom trees, is a picturesque spot within Central Park. The fountain, adorned with ornate carvings and surrounded by lush foliage, provides a peaceful respite for visitors seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

13. City Employees Memorial Flagpole

Location: West side of The Mall

Description: This flagpole serves as a tribute to the dedicated employees of New York City who have served their city with distinction and honor. Surrounded by lush greenery, the flagpole stands as a symbol of civic pride and unity, reminding visitors of the contributions made by city employees to the fabric of urban life.

14. Cleopatra's Needle

Location: West of the Metropolitan Museum

Description: Cleopatra's Needle, an ancient Egyptian obelisk dating back to the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III, stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of one of history's most iconic civilizations. Transported from Egypt to New York City in the late 19th century, the obelisk serves as a symbol of cultural exchange and historical preservation.

15. Statue of Christopher Columbus

Location: East Drive, south of The Mall

Description: Cast in Barcelona in 1892, the Christopher Columbus statue stands atop a Rockport granite plinth, overlooking the park. Donated by the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society in 1894, the statue commemorates the 400th anniversary of Columbus's arrival in the Americas.

16. Conservatory Garden Central Fountain

Location: Fifth Ave. opp. 105th St.

Description: The Conservatory Garden Central Fountain, situated within the formal gardens of the Conservatory Garden, is a focal point of beauty and elegance. Surrounded by meticulously manicured flower beds and pathways, the fountain exudes a sense of tranquility and grace, inviting visitors to pause and admire its splendor.

17. Dana Discovery Center Donor's Plaque

Location: North shore of Harlem Meer

Description: This plaque, located near the Dana Discovery Center, commemorates the generous donors who have contributed to the upkeep and maintenance of Central Park's northernmost lake, Harlem Meer. Their support ensures that this natural habitat remains a vibrant and thriving ecosystem for both wildlife and visitors alike.

18. Dana Discovery Center Plaque

Location: North shore of Harlem Meer

Description: Adjacent to the Dana Discovery Center, this plaque serves as a testament to the center's mission of environmental education and community engagement. Named in honor of Charles A. Dana, a philanthropist and conservationist, the center provides educational programs and resources to foster an appreciation for nature and wildlife.

19. Dancing Goat

Location: Central Park Zoo, north of the Sea Lion Pool

Description: This whimsical sculpture, located within the Central Park Zoo, captures the playful spirit of its animal inhabitants. Depicting a goat in mid-leap, the sculpture adds a touch of charm to the zoo's landscape, delighting visitors of all ages with its lively presence.

20. Decorative Zoological Panels

Location: Central Park Zoo

Description: Adorning the walls of the Central Park Zoo, these decorative panels showcase intricate designs and motifs inspired by the animal kingdom. Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, the panels enhance the zoo's ambiance, providing visitors with an immersive experience as they explore the exhibits.

21. Delacorte Clock

Location: Children's Zoo

Description: A beloved feature of the Children's Zoo, the Delacorte Clock delights visitors with its whimsical display of animated animals and nursery rhyme characters. Designed by Fernando Texidor and sculpted by Andrea Spadini, the clock chimes every half hour, accompanied by the lively movements of its colorful figures.

22. Frederick Douglass Memorial

Location: Frederick Douglass Circle, Central Park North & Frederick Douglass Boulevard

Description: This memorial commemorates the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass, a towering figure in the abolitionist movement and a champion of civil rights. Designed by Gabriel Koren and erected in 2011, the memorial features a bronze statue of Douglass standing atop a pedestal, gazing steadfastly towards the horizon.

23. Daniel Draper Plaque

Location: Belvedere Castle

Description: This plaque honors Daniel Draper, the visionary landscape architect responsible for the design of Central Park's iconic Belvedere Castle. Draper's innovative approach to park design transformed Central Park into a lush urban oasis, earning him recognition as one of the pioneers of landscape architecture.

24. S. Rankin Drew Memorial Tree Marker

Location: 72nd St., west of The Mall

Description: This tree marker commemorates S. Rankin Drew, a dedicated arborist and conservationist who played a pivotal role in preserving Central Park's natural beauty. By identifying and preserving significant trees within the park, Drew contributed to the preservation of Central Park's ecological diversity for future generations to enjoy.

25. Granite Eagles

Location: Central Park Zoo

Description: These majestic granite eagles, positioned near the entrance of the Central Park Zoo, symbolize strength, freedom, and resilience. Carved with intricate detail, the eagles stand as guardians of the zoo, welcoming visitors and inspiring awe with their imposing presence.

26. Eagles and Prey

Location: Center Drive, opp. Lilac Walk

Description: This sculptural group, depicting eagles in pursuit of their prey, captures the raw power and intensity of nature's predators. Positioned along Center Drive, the sculpture serves as a striking reminder of the delicate balance between predator and prey in the natural world.

27. Duke Ellington Memorial

Location: Duke Ellington Circle, Fifth Ave. & 110th St.

Description: This memorial pays tribute to Duke Ellington, the legendary jazz composer and musician whose groundbreaking contributions revolutionized the genre. Designed by Robert Graham and unveiled in 1997, the memorial features a larger-than-life bronze statue of Ellington seated at a grand piano, surrounded by flowing water and musical notes.

28. The Falconer

Location: West 72nd St.

Description: This iconic bronze sculpture, created by George Blackall Simonds, depicts a falconer in traditional attire, poised with outstretched arm as his falcon takes flight. Erected in 1875, the statue serves as a symbol of freedom and the pursuit of excellence, capturing the timeless allure of falconry.

29. Fort Clinton Memorial

Location: McGowan's Pass, Between Fifth Ave. & East Drive, opp. 107th St.

Description: This memorial commemorates the historic significance of Fort Clinton, a military fortification built during the War of 1812 to defend New York City from British invasion. Although the fort no longer stands, the memorial serves as a reminder of the city's rich military heritage and its role in shaping American history.

30. Friedel Memorial Drinking Fountain

Location: Runners Gate, Fifth Ave. opp. 90th St.

Description: This drinking fountain, dedicated in memory of Friedel, provides a refreshing respite for park visitors and joggers alike. Adorned with decorative motifs and inscribed with a heartfelt dedication, the fountain serves as a tribute to the enduring spirit of friendship and community within Central Park.

31. Andrew Haswell Green Memorial Bench

Location: East Drive, east of The Ravine

Description: Situated along East Drive, this memorial bench honors Andrew Haswell Green, a pioneering figure in the development of Central Park and a driving force behind the creation of New York City's public park system. Surrounded by lush greenery, the bench invites visitors to pause and reflect on Green's enduring legacy.

32. Group of Bears

Location: Pat Hoffman Friedman Playground, 79th St. & Fifth Ave.

Description: This playful sculpture, located within the Pat Hoffman Friedman Playground, features a group of bears engaged in various activities. Designed to inspire imaginative play, the sculpture invites children to interact with its whimsical characters, fostering creativity and camaraderie within the playground.

33. Statue of Fitz-Greene Halleck

Location: The Mall

Description: This statue commemorates Fitz-Greene Halleck, a renowned poet and contemporary of Edgar Allan Poe. Sculpted by James Wilson Alexander MacDonald, the bronze statue portrays Halleck in a contemplative pose, surrounded by lush foliage and towering trees, evoking the romanticism of his poetry.

34. Statue of Alexander Hamilton

Location: East Drive, west of the Metropolitan Museum

Description: Erected in honor of Alexander Hamilton, one of America's founding fathers and the first Secretary of the Treasury, this statue celebrates Hamilton's enduring legacy and contributions to the nation. Positioned near the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the statue serves as a reminder of Hamilton's pivotal role in shaping America's financial system.

35. Bust of Victor Herbert

Location: The Mall, opp. the bandstand

Description: This bust commemorates Victor Herbert, a prolific composer and conductor known for his contributions to American musical theater. Positioned near the bandstand on The Mall, the bust pays homage to Herbert's enduring influence on the world of music and entertainment.

36. Honey Bear

Location: Central Park Zoo, north of the Delacorte Musical Clock

Description: This charming sculpture of a honey bear, located within the Central Park Zoo, captures the playful innocence of its namesake. Crafted with meticulous detail, the sculpture invites visitors to admire its lifelike appearance and observe the bear's natural behaviors up close. Positioned near the Delacorte Musical Clock, the honey bear adds to the enchanting ambiance of the zoo, captivating visitors with its endearing presence.

37. Bust of Alexander von Humboldt

Location: Explorers Gate, Central Park West opp. 77th St.

Description: This bust honors Alexander von Humboldt, a visionary naturalist and explorer whose groundbreaking scientific discoveries revolutionized our understanding of the natural world. Positioned near the Explorers Gate, the bust serves as a tribute to Humboldt's tireless efforts to unravel the mysteries of nature and promote environmental conservation.

38. Richard Morris Hunt Memorial

Location: Fifth Ave. opp. 70th St.

Description: This memorial pays homage to Richard Morris Hunt, a pioneering architect renowned for his contributions to the design of Central Park and numerous landmark buildings throughout New York City. Designed by Daniel Chester French and Bruce Price, the memorial features a bronze bust of Hunt atop a granite pedestal, commemorating his enduring legacy in the field of architecture.

39. Waldo Hutchins Memorial Bench

Location: Fifth Ave. opp. 72nd St.

Description: Situated along Fifth Avenue, this memorial bench honors Waldo Hutchins, a philanthropist and civic leader dedicated to the preservation and beautification of Central Park. Surrounded by lush greenery and scenic vistas, the bench provides a tranquil setting for visitors to rest and reflect on Hutchins' contributions to the park's enduring beauty.

40. Indian Hunter

Location: 66th St., west of The Mall

Description: This evocative sculpture, depicting an indigenous hunter in pursuit of his prey, pays homage to the Native American tribes who once inhabited the land that is now Central Park. Created by John Quincy Adams Ward, the sculpture serves as a reminder of the park's rich cultural heritage and the enduring legacy of its indigenous inhabitants.

41. King Jagiello Monument

Location: 79th St., east of Turtle Pond

Description: This monument commemorates King Jagiello of Poland, a revered historical figure known for his contributions to the unification of Poland and Lithuania. Designed by Stanislaw Kazimierz Ostrowski and unveiled in 1945, the monument features a bronze equestrian statue of King Jagiello atop a granite pedestal, symbolizing his leadership and legacy.

42. Kilmer Memorial Plaque

Location: West of The Mall

Description: This plaque honors Joyce Kilmer, a renowned poet best known for his poem "Trees," which celebrates the beauty and majesty of the natural world. Positioned near The Mall, the plaque pays tribute to Kilmer's enduring love of nature and his literary contributions to American culture.

43. Knights of Pythias Memorial

Location: World War I memorial

Description: This memorial commemorates the Knights of Pythias, a fraternal organization dedicated to promoting friendship, charity, and benevolence. Erected as part of a larger World War I memorial, the Knights of Pythias Memorial serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by members of the organization in service to their country.

44. Statue of Fred Lebow

Location: Onassis Reservoir Jogging Track, East Drive opp. 90th St.

Description: This statue honors Fred Lebow, the founder of the New York City Marathon and a beloved figure in the running community. Positioned along the Onassis Reservoir Jogging Track, the statue depicts Lebow in mid-stride, capturing his passion for running and his enduring legacy as a pioneer of long-distance running in New York City.

45. Lehman Gates

Location: Children's Zoo, 72nd Street Entrance

Description: The Lehman Gates, located at the entrance to the Children's Zoo, welcome visitors with their ornate wrought-iron design and whimsical animal motifs. Named in honor of the Lehman family, longtime supporters of Central Park, the gates serve as a fitting entrance to the zoo, inviting children and families to explore its wonders.

46. Levy Gate

Location: Pat Hoffman Friedman Playground near Fifth Ave. & 79th St.

Description: The Levy Gate, located near the Pat Hoffman Friedman Playground, features intricate wrought-iron designs and decorative embellishments. Named in honor of the Levy family, philanthropists and supporters of Central Park, the gate adds to the charm and character of the playground, welcoming visitors with its elegant craftsmanship.

47. Sophie Irene Loeb Memorial Fountain

Location: Fifth Ave., bet. 76th & 77th Streets

Description: This fountain commemorates Sophie Irene Loeb, a pioneering journalist and advocate for social reform. Designed by Frederick William MacMonnies and unveiled in 1936, the fountain features a bronze statue of a young girl holding a bowl, symbolizing the nourishment of knowledge and the pursuit of justice.

48. Lombard Lamp

Location: East Drive & 60th Street

Description: The Lombard Lamp, situated at the intersection of East Drive and 60th Street, adds to the elegance and charm of Central Park's landscape. Named for its distinctive Lombard-style design, the lamp serves as a beacon of light and warmth, guiding visitors through the park's pathways and promenades.

49. Equestrian statue of José Martí

Location: Central Park South opp. Avenue of the Americas

Description: This equestrian statue honors José Martí, a Cuban poet, journalist, and revolutionary leader who fought for the independence of Cuba from Spanish colonial rule. Created by Anna Hyatt Huntington and unveiled in 1965, the statue captures Martí in a heroic pose, symbolizing his unwavering commitment to freedom and justice.

50. Martin Memorial Birdbath

Location: Central Park Zoo

Description: The Martin Memorial Birdbath, located within the Central Park Zoo, provides a refreshing oasis for the park's avian inhabitants. Surrounded by lush vegetation and scenic vistas, the birdbath invites visitors to observe the park's diverse bird species as they frolic and bathe in the cool waters.

51. Bust of Giuseppe Mazzini

Location: Sheep Meadow, West Drive, near 67th Street

Description: This bust commemorates Giuseppe Mazzini, an Italian revolutionary and statesman who played a pivotal role in the unification of Italy. Positioned near Sheep Meadow, the bust serves as a tribute to Mazzini's tireless efforts to promote democracy and nationalism in 19th-century Europe.

52. John Purroy Mitchel Memorial

Location: Engineers Gate, Fifth Ave., opp. 90th St.

Description: This memorial honors John Purroy Mitchel, the youngest mayor in New York City's history and a progressive reformer known for his efforts to combat corruption and improve city government. Positioned near Engineers Gate, the memorial pays tribute to Mitchel's legacy of public service and his commitment to making New York City a better place for all its residents.

53. Bust of Thomas Moore

Location: East Drive, bet. 60th & 61st Streets

Description: This bust commemorates Thomas Moore, an Irish poet and songwriter best known for his ballads and melodies. Positioned along East Drive, the bust pays tribute to Moore's contributions to literature and music, capturing the romanticism and lyricism of his works.

54. The Pilgrim

Location: East Side at 72nd Street

Description: This sculpture, known as "The Pilgrim," stands as a symbol of spiritual journey and inner reflection. Created by sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward, the statue portrays a solitary pilgrim figure, draped in robes and clutching a staff, as he embarks on a metaphorical journey of faith and self-discovery.

55. William Shakespeare

Location: Literary Walk, south end of The Mall

Description: This statue of William Shakespeare, the renowned playwright and poet of the Elizabethan era, stands as a tribute to his enduring literary legacy. Positioned at the south end of The Mall, the statue captures Shakespeare in a pensive pose, surrounded by characters from his most famous plays, including Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet.

56. Sherman Monument

Location: East Drive at 79th Street

Description: This monument commemorates General William Tecumseh Sherman, a Union Army officer who played a key role in the American Civil War. Designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and unveiled in 1903, the monument features a bronze equestrian statue of Sherman atop a granite pedestal, symbolizing his leadership and valor on the battlefield.

57. General Alexander S. Webb

Location: West Drive at 72nd Street

Description: This monument honors General Alexander S. Webb, a Union Army officer and recipient of the Medal of Honor for his valor during the Battle of Gettysburg. Positioned at the entrance to Central Park, the monument features a bronze statue of General Webb atop a granite pedestal, commemorating his bravery and leadership in defense of the Union.

58. Women's Rights Pioneer Monument

Location: Central Park Mall, near 66th Street

Description: This monument commemorates the women's suffrage movement and honors three pioneering women's rights activists: Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth. Designed by Meredith Bergmann and unveiled in 2020, the monument features bronze statues of Anthony, Stanton, and Truth gathered around a table, engaging in dialogue and advocacy for women's rights.

Did You Know?

  • The oldest statue in Central Park is the Egyptian obelisk, Cleopatra's Needle, which was erected around 1500 BC. 
  • The first statue of a real person to be installed in Central Park was the Indian Hunter statue, sculpted by John Quincy Adams Ward.
  • There are several statues dedicated to literary figures, including Alice in Wonderland characters, the poet Fitz-Greene Halleck, and the Scottish poet Robert Burns.
  • Central Park also has statues honoring historical figures from around the world, including Polish King Jagiello, Cuban revolutionary José Martí, and Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Mazzini.

Planning Your Central Park Statue Tour

To fully immerse yourself in Central Park's artistic landscape, consider these tips:

  • Thematic Walks: Discover specific collections with tours dedicated to literary or historical figures.
  • Interactive Apps: Download apps that provide a self-guided tour with information on each statue's location, history, and significance.
  • Hidden Gems: Venture beyond the well-known statues to discover tucked-away sculptures waiting to be unveiled.

Central Park's statues are more than just ornamental features. They are storytellers, weaving a narrative of history, literature, and artistic expression.  So, lace up your walking shoes, embark on your artistic adventure, and let the statues of Central Park unveil their captivating tales.


Central Park's statues stand as enduring symbols of history, culture, and artistry, enriching the park's landscape and inviting visitors to explore their stories and significance. Whether honoring literary figures, historical heroes, or moments of cultural significance, these sculptures serve as reminders of the diverse tapestry of human experience and the enduring legacy of those who have shaped our world. As visitors wander through Central Park's pathways and promenades, they are invited to discover the beauty, wonder, and inspiration embodied in each of these remarkable works of art.

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