Sculptures by Women in NYC Parks

Women have designed, created, and sculpted many of our most well-known monuments, leaving an indelible imprint on the city's permanent art collection. In celebration of Women's History Month, take a look at some of our favorite sculptures by women in parks that tell the story of our city's history and culture. You can learn more about monuments and parks dedicated to women, as well as public art exhibitions by women on our Women's History and Parks page

Emma Stebbins, Angel of the Waters, Central Park 

A figure of an angel stands atop the very tall Bethesda Fountain surrounded by trees in Central Park. Water runs down from the feet of the angel which was sculpted by lesbian sculptor Emma Stebbins.

This famous Angel of the Waters sculpture in Central Park is the masterpiece of sculptor Emma Stebbins (1815-1882), the first woman to receive a commission for a major public work in New York City. The statue is part of the beloved Bethesda Fountain which celebrates the 1842 opening of the Croton Aqueduct, which brought fresh water from Westchester County into New York City. Some believe the statue was modeled after her lover, Charlotte Cushman, who was an American actress. Learn more about the Angel of the Waters at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park

Belle Kinney, Bronx Victory Memorial, Pelham Bay Park 

A 70-foot-tall column with a woman on top stands among a grove of trees preceded by an open lawn area.

Reaching more than 100 feet, the Bronx Victory Memorial and its adjacent grove of trees commemorate the 947 soldiers from the Bronx who gave their lives in service during World War I. It is one of two World War I memorial in NYC Parks to honor the fallen soldiers from a particular borough. The other is the Prospect Park War Memorial. It was designed by landscape architect John J. Sheridan and sculptors Belle Kinney and Leopold Scholz. Learn more about the Bronx Victory Memorial in Pelham Bay Park 

Allison Saar, Swing Low: Harriet Tubman Memorial, Tubman Triangle

A larger-than-life statue of Harriet Tubman stands among greenery at an intersection of streets.

This memorial at the crossroads of St. Nicholas Avenue, West 122nd Street, and Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem honors abolitionist organizer and Underground Railroad leader Harriet Tubman. The Underground Railroad was a network of places and people dedicated to helping enslaved people find freedom. The memorial, which was created by African-American sculptor Alison Saar, depicts Tubman "not as the conductor of the Underground Railroad but as the train itself, an unstoppable locomotive,” the roots of slavery pulled up in her wake. Learn more about the Harriet Tubman Memorial

Lina Viste Gronli, Peace Clock, Trygve Lie Plaza

The brass kinetic sculpture on a wall functions as a clock whole hands, twice a day, shows the peace sign.

This artwork commemorates the life and legacy of Trygve Lie and connects his aspiration for peace with the ongoing work of the United Nations. Trygve Lie was the first Secretary-General of the United Nations. He helped establish the United Nations’ mission in promoting world peace, fundamental human rights, and international law, and he was in charge of establishing its headquarters in Manhattan. The abstract kinetic sculpture, by Lina Viste Gronli, functions as a clock whose hands, twice a day, assume the position of the peace sign. Learn more about the Peace Clock

Penelope Jencks, Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial, Riverside Park

A bronze statue depicts Eleanor Roosevelt leaning on a boulder among the park's natural trees.

This monument in Riverside Park honors humanitarian and First Lady Anna Eleanor Roosevelt. It was dedicated on October 5, 1996 in the presence of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was then the First Lady of the United States. The bronze statue, by Penelope Jencks, depicts Eleanor Roosevelt leaning against a natural boulder. As a worldwide spokesperson, lecturer, news columnist, and chair of the committee that drafted the Declaration of Human Rights, Roosevelt set about championing the cause of social reform and racial equality. Learn more about the Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial in Riverside Park

Nobuho Nagasawa, Luminescence, Hunter's Point South Park 

White mounds on an open lawn area depicts craters, valleys, and mountains on the moon.

New York-based artist Nobuho Nagasawa created Luminescence, an art installation in the south section of the park that presents the phases of the moon through 6-foot concrete discs that glow at night. The permanent sculptures are etched to reflect the moon's craters, mountains, and valleys. Learn more about Hunter's Point South Park

Eileen Berry, Rockaway Women’s Veterans Memorial, Rockaway Beach

A bronze statue of a woman in uniform and holding a helment.

This monument at Beach 94th Street at Rockway Beach honors the "women who served their country in times of conflict throughout our country's glorious history". These words are engraved on the plaque of the statue sculpted by Eileen Berry. It was dedicated in September 1989. Learn more about the Rockway Women's Veterans Memorial

Anne Hyatt Huntington, Joan of Arc, Riverside Park

The statue, on a pedestal, depicts Joan of Arc riding a horse with a sword in hand and pointed in the air.

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. The piece, dedicated in 1915, was created by artist and art patron Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington. 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. Learn more about the Joan of Arc Memorial in Riverside Park

Gabriel Koren, Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass Circle at Central Park

A bronze statue of Frederick Douglass standing on a platform and resting his hand on a podium. The statue is surrounded by other elements of the memorial which is contained in a cirlce.

This monument honors Frederick Douglass, abolitionist, orator, publisher, and author of the 1845 memoir Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, which recounts Douglass' life while he was enslaved. His statue, which stands at the intersection of Frederick Douglass Boulevard and 110th Street (the start of Harlem), was sculpted by Hungarian-born sculptor Gabriel Koren. She also sculpted the Malcolm X Memorial statue located at the site of the former Audubon Ballroom, where the civil rights leader was slain. Learn more about the Frederick Douglass Memorial in Central Park

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, Washington Heights-Inwood War Memorial, Mitchel Square

The statue depicts two soldiers, one kneeling and one standing, supporting a third slumping comrade in battle.

This World War I memorial, by esteemed sculptor and art patron Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, depicts two soldiers, one kneeling and one standing, supporting a third slumping comrade in battle. The monument honors those men from the adjacent communities in northern Manhattan of Washington Heights and Inwood who gave their lives while serving their country in the war. Learn more about the Washington Heights-Inwood War Memorial in Mitchell Square

Anne Marie McDonnell, A Bird Named Goldilocks, Clove Lakes Park

A miniature vignette, in which a bird has happened upon the remains of a meal at a tiny table setting, is contained within the stump of a tree.

This whimsical, intimate bronze sculpture was created by Staten Island artist Anne Marie McDonnell. McDonnell modeled this homage to the classic children’s story, Goldilocks and the Three Bears while an artist-in-residence at Snug Harbor Cultural Center. A miniature vignette, in which a bird has happened upon the remains of a meal at a tiny table setting, is contained within the stump of a tree. The work intends to engage children in the playground where the artwork is situated in imaginative play. Learn more about A Bird Named Goldilocks at Clove Lakes Park

Elizabeth Catlett, Invisible Man: Ralph Ellison Memorial, Riverside Park

A bronze monolith featuring a hollow silhouette  of a man, which is a nod to Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man" novel and the theme of the book.

This monument along Riverside Drive at 150th Street honors writer Ralph Waldo Ellison, who is best known for writing the epic novel Invisible Man, the inspiration for the memorial. The 15-foot-high, 10-foot-wide bronze monolith – the center of which featuring a hollow silhouette of a man – was created by Elizabeth Catlett. In her long career, Catlett drew upon her experience as a black woman coming of age in an era of segregation. Invisible Man is Catlett’s only public commission in New York. She chose as her central image for the memorial a bronze in which a large striding and assertive figure are defined by its absence. This is in keeping with the themes of Ellison’s novel whose central protagonist wrestles with issues of racial identity, alienation, and assimilation. Learn more about Invisible Man: Ralph Ellison Memorial at Riverside Park

Bessie Potter Vonnoh, Burnett Memorial, Central Park

Surrounded by the park's greenery and benches, the Burnett Memorial, which also includes a fountain, depicts in bronze a standing girl holding a bowl, a boy playing a flute reclining beside her, and swallows.

This sculpture by Bessie Potter Vonno was created to honor late author Frances Eliza Hodgson whose highly successful literary career included such novels as That Lass o’ Lowrie’s (1877), Little Lord Fauntleroy (1886), A Little Princess (1905), the and Secret Garden (1910). Located in the Conservatory Garden in Central Park, the Burnett Memorial, which also includes a fountain, depicts in bronze a standing girl holding a bowl, a boy playing a flute reclining beside her, and swallows. Based on the characters of Mary and Dickon from Burnett’s famous novel Secret Garden, the figures relate to several other versions of the subject in private collections. Learn more about the Burnett Memorial in Central Park

Coming Soon: Amanda Williams, Our Destiny, Our Democracy (Shirley Chisholm monument), Prospect Park

Rendering of a green and yellow monument of Shirley Chisholm at an entrance to Prospect Park. Her body is green and her hair is yellow, like petals of a flower.

Thanks to She Built NYC, a statue of Shirley Chisholm is coming to Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Chisholm, daughter of immigrants from Barbados and Guyana, was the first black Congresswoman and first major-party black candidate to run for President of the United States. The monument, designed by acclaimed artists Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous, will be located at the Parkside entrance to Prospect Park by the end of 2020. Learn more about the Shirley Chisholm monument and She Built NYC

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