NYC Resources311Office of the Mayor

Central Park

Hans Christian Andersen map_it

History

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

“To be born in a duck’s nest, in a farmyard, is of no consequence to a bird, if it is hatched from a swan’s egg.” --The Ugly Duckling (1844)

This bronze larger-than-life-sized figure depicts Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875), Danish poet, novelist, and author of fairy tales including The Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid. Sculptor Georg John Lober (1892–1961), who also created the statue of George M. Cohan (1958) in Duffy Square, shows the writer seated on a bench appearing to be reading his semi-autobiographical Ugly Duckling story to a rather attentive 2-foot-high bronze “duckling.”

The sculpture was sponsored by the Danish American Women’s Association and was first unveiled in 1955 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Andersen’s birthday. Both Danish and American schoolchildren helped raise the $75,000 needed to build the piece. To this day it continues to attract children who enjoy sitting in the writer’s lap. In 1973 the bronze cygnet was stolen, later recovered, and secured. Since 1956 the statue has served as a backdrop for children’s reading events, the best known of these storytellers is author Diane Wolkstein, who has spearheaded the summer reading program at the statue since 1966.

Photo of Hans Christian Andersen statue in Central Park

Hans Christian Andersen Details

  • Sculptor: Georg John Lober
  • Architect: Otto F. Langmann (Bench)
  • Description: Seated figure (heroic scale) on bench, cygnet figure
  • Materials: Figures--bronze; Bench--Stony Creek pink granite (polished)
  • Dimensions: Figure H: 9'6" W: 6'1" D: 6'2"; Bench H: 3'3" W: 21'2" D: 17'4"; Cygnet figure H: 1'10½"
  • Cast: 1956
  • Dedicated: September 18, 1956
  • Foundry: Modern Art Foundry
  • Donor: Danish American Women's Association
  • Inscription: 1) Bench, rear: HANS * CHRISTIAN * ANDERSEN / THIS MONUMENT IS THE GIFT OF / THE CHILDREN OF DENMARK AND / NEW YORK CITY AND THEIR FRIENDS / 1956 / SPONSORED BY / THE DANISH AMERICAN WOMEN'S ASSOCIATION / BARONESS ALMA DAHLERUP FOUNDER /

    2) In open book: THE UGLY DUCKLING /---/ IT WAS BEAUTIFUL IN THE COUNTRY. IT WAS SUMMER / THE WHEAT FIELDS WERE GOLDEN AND THE OATS WERE / GREEN. DOWN AMONG THE GREEN / MEADOWS AND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FORESTS WERE / DEEP LAKES. YES IT WAS INDEED LOVELY OUT / THERE IN THE COUNTRY. IN THE MIDST OF / THE SUNSHINE THERE STOOD AN OLD MANOR / HOUSE THAT HAD A DEEP MOAT AROUND IT. / FROM THE WALLS OF THE MANOR RIGHT DOWN TO / THE WATER'S EDGE [...]

    3) Hat brim, proper right: OTTO F. LANGMANN / -ARCHITECT- / GEORG J. LOBER / -SCULPTOR- / 1956 ©

    4) Hem of coat, proper left rear: MODERN ART FDRY N.Y.

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 Central Park

Central Park Weather

  • Sun
    Chance Thunderstorms
    84°F
  • Tue
    Mostly Sunny
    79°F
  • Wed
    Mostly Sunny
    79°F
  • Thu
    Sunny
    81°F

7-day forecast

Was this information helpful?