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Parks Monuments Dedicated to Women

The Joan of Arc Memorial in Riverside Park, dedicated December 6, 1915

Several monuments in Parks honor notable women figures. One of the finest works of art in the Parks collection is an impressive bronze equestrian sculpture of 15th century French patriot and martyr Joan of Arc (1411-1431). The piece, dedicated in 1915, was created by the eminent artist and art patron Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington (1876-1973). Jeanne La Pucelle, later known as Joan of Arc, was a peasant maiden said to have been divinely inspired to help liberate the French from English rule. Joan of Arc gained the trust of the King of France, then eventually fell out of favor with the regime and was burned at the stake in 1431.

A statue in Bryant Park honors the trailblazing American author and arts patron Gertrude Stein (1874-1946). The monument's proximity to the New York Public Library reflects Stein's significant literary contributions -- from plays, librettos, and film scripts to biographies, autobiographies, lectures, essays, poems, and novels. Stein's early literary endeavors were inspired by the spatial concepts explored in Cubism. She developed an experimental use of language that relied upon the sound and rhythms of words as much as their content. In the 1920s, she established a cultural salon in Paris, and influenced such writers as Ernest Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Her life and relationships were recounted in the humorous and trenchant work The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933), which reflected the life of her longtime companion. In 1934, she traveled to New York, where her opera Four Saints in Three Acts, with music by Virgil Thomson, was a great success performed by an all-black cast.

Flowers are cast into the water as Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain is rededicated on September 14, 1934.

Also in Bryant Park, the Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain, designed by Charles A. Platt, is said to be the first major New York City monument to honor a woman. Josephine Shaw Lowell (1843-1905) was the first female member of the New York State Board of Charities, serving on the board from 1876 to 1889 and focusing her efforts on the underprivileged population of Manhattan's Lower East Side. Her older brother was Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who was killed while leading the African-American Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Infantry in the assault on Fort Wagner, South Carolina--the story told in the movie Glory. At the fountain's dedication in 1912, Parks Commissioner Charles Stover noted, "We are beginning to recognize in New York what is due women."

A monument honoring humanitarian and First Lady Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), was dedicated in Riverside Park at 72nd Street on October 5, 1996 in the presence of Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the First Lady of the United States. The bronze statue of Eleanor Roosevelt leaning against a natural boulder was created by sculptor Penelope Jencks. As a world-wide spokesperson, lecturer, and news columnist, Roosevelt set about championing the cause of social reform and racial equality.

A monument by Allison Saar honoring the Underground Railroad leader Harriet Tubman (ca. 1820-1913) was dedicated in 2008 at 123rd Street and St. Nicholas Avenue. Tubman was born into slavery, escaped from her masters, and went on to help other slaves escape. Later in her life, she advocated and worked towards the goal of woman's suffrage. Along Riverside Drive at 116th Street, a marble stele and drinking fountain designed by Bruno Louis Zimm commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Woman's Health Protective Association (WHPA) of New York City in 1909. The Association was formed to raise awareness of public health issues facing women. The names of its members are inscribed along the benches to the right and left of the stele -- Charlotte Wilbour, one of the names inscribed along the Riverside Park benches, helped found the first New York City Woman Suffrage Association in 1870.

Catherine J. Carroll Plaque at the Metropolitan Pool in Brooklyn, March 3, 2008. Photo by A. Dorlester.

A tablet honoring Jane Addams, founder of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, is located in Manhattan's City Hall Park. Another plaque in nearby Battery Park honors Emma Lazarus, whose line "huddled masses yearning to breathe free" is inextricably linked to the Statue of Liberty; Battery Park being the departure point for ferries to visit the monument. Sculptor Oronzio Maldarelli created the sculptural birdbath in Central Park dedicated to Edith Deacon Martin (1898-1941), whose family donated the piece. Elsewhere in Central Park, a garden sculpture and fountain designed by Aymar Embury II with statues by Bessie Potter Vonnoh honors the children's book author Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924). Sculptor Pietro Montana created the bronze relief honoring Catherine Carroll at Brooklyn's Metropolitan Pool. C. Fisher Weimer designed the inscribed stone wall dedicating Upper Manhattan's Gorman Park to Gertie Amelia Gorman (1859-1920), who owned many parcels of land across the city, including the site of Gorman Park.

Related Links

Catherine Carroll Memorial
Edith Deacon Martin Birdbath
Eleanor Roosevelt Monument
Emma Lazarus Memorial Plaque
Gertie A. Gorman Memorial
Gertrude Stein Monument
Harriet Tubman Monument (planned)
Jane Addams Memorial
Joan of Arc Monument
Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain
Woman's Health Protective Association Fountain
Monuments

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