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Bleecker Playground

The Family map_it

History

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This bronze sculpture by artist Chaim Gross (1904-1991) depicts a family of five. The adults are reaching up, as if towards the sky, as they support three children in their hands. The adult figures float gracefully and symmetrically, portraying a harmonious family unit.

Born in the Galacian village of Wolowa among the Carpathian Mountains (modern day Poland) in 1904, Chaim Gross was displaced from his family during World War I (1914-1918). He immigrated to the United States on April 14, 1921, and settled in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Gross worked as a delivery boy while attending the Art School of the Educational Alliance on the Lower East Side and the Beaux Arts Institute of Design. He studied sculpting under both Elie Nadelman (1885-1964) and Robert Laurent (1890-1970). Living in the Village for 70 years, Gross produced numerous works in wood, stone, and metal, including Happy Mother (1931), Riveters (1938), Sisters (1965), Juggler (1974), and Performer (1982). He died on May 5, 1991.

The piece, located on the corner of West 11th Street and Bleecker Street in a grove of linden trees, was a gift of the artist to commemorate Edward I. Koch’s (born 1924) tenure as mayor of New York (1978-89). With his gift, Gross wanted to express his gratitude for the mayor’s work on behalf of the city, as well as the artist’s own affection for his adopted home. The piece was cast in 1979, and dedicated with a new granite base in 1992 in this Greenwich Village park, close to where Gross lived during his time in New York. Gross’s works also appear in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art as well as in the Boston Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.

The Family Details

  • Location: Bleecker and West 11th Street, north-west corner, sitting area under Linden trees
  • Sculptor: Chaim Gross
  • Architect: Karahan Schwarting Architectural Co.
  • Description: Group of five figures (two large, three small) with integral support and plinth on pedestal
  • Materials: Sculpture--bronze (brown patina); Pedestal--Carnelian red granite
  • Dimensions: Sculpture H: 7'6" W: 7'6"; Pedestal H: 6' W: 4' D: 3'
  • Cast: 1979
  • Dedicated: May 27, 1992
  • Foundry: Bedi-Makky Art Foundry
  • Fabricator: Lithos International (pedestal)
  • Donor: Irwin Hersey and Friends of Chaim Gross
  • Inscription: THE FAMILY / 1979 / CHAIM GROSS /---/ DONATED TO THE CITY OF NEW YORK, 1991 / IN HONOR OF / EDWARD I. KOCH / MAYOR 1978-1989

Please note, the NAME field includes a primary designation as well as alternate namings often in common or popular usage. The DEDICATED field refers to the most recent dedication, most often, but not necessarily the original dedication date. If the monument did not have a formal dedication, the year listed reflects the date of installation.

For more information, please contact Art & Antiquities at (212) 360-8143

Directions to Bleecker Playground

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Bleecker Playground Weather

  • Mon
    Chance Rain
    44°F
  • Tue
    Chance Rain
    52°F
  • Wed
    Heavy Rain
    59°F
  • Sun
    Chance Rain
    52°F

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