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Romeo and Juliet map_it

History

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

This bronze piece in front of the Delacorte Theater depicts the doomed lovers of celebrated playwright and poet William Shakespeare’s (1564–1616) tragic play Romeo and Juliet. One of two companion pieces sculpted by Milton Hebald (born 1917) and unveiled in 1977, the piece is a gift of publisher and philanthropist George T. Delacorte (1894–1991). He donated the Delacorte Theater, which is best known for its free Shakespeare productions that play each summer. Hebald’s other piece at the site, The Tempest (1966), commemorates the Shakespeare play of the same name.

Delacorte’s many gifts to the City include the Alice-in-Wonderland statue (1959) and the Delacorte Clock (1965) in Central Park, as well as fountains in Bowling Green Park (1977) and Columbus Circle (1965). As founder of Dell Books, Delacorte published comic books of popular animated characters such as Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, and Walt Disney’s Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Pluto. As his fortune grew, Delacorte began to give gifts to Central Park. It is said that the image of the Mad Hatter in the Alice-in-Wonderland sculpture is a portrait of the donor himself.

The Delacorte Theater, which opened in 1962, is the permanent home of Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival. The theater’s opening performance was The Merchant of Venice, directed by Papp and featuring George C. Scott, James Earl Jones, and William Devane. Sculptor Hebald also created the bust of opera star Richard Tucker (1979) across from Lincoln Center. In 1985 the Central Park Conservancy conserved the sculpture, which is maintained by the Conservancy through an endowment established by Mr. Delacorte’s heirs.

Photo of Romeo and Juliet statue in Central Park

Romeo and Juliet Details

  • Sculptor: Milton Hebald
  • Description: Over life-size group of two figures on pedestal
  • Materials: Bronze and granite
  • Cast: 1978
  • Foundry: Spartaco Dionesi Foundry, Rome
  • Donor: George T. Delacorte

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

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