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Alexander von Humboldt


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

This heroic-sized bronze bust by Gustaf Blaeser (1813–1874) depicts German scientist, explorer, and naturalist Frederick Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859). Humboldt made an expedition into Central and South America in 1799, exploring the Orinoco and Amazon Rivers and portions of the Andes to learn more about meteorology and plant life. His later expedition to Siberia in 1829 furthered his study of ocean currents and magnetism.

Humboldt not only explored the Americas, but also researched extensively in his home country. He and French chemist Joseph Gay-Lussac studied the behavior of gases, laying the groundwork for many 19th century theories of the structure of matter. These studies, coupled with the knowledge gained on his research voyages, allowed Humboldt to pen the influential, five-volume work, The Cosmos (1845). Presenting an integrative view of the universe, this work combined the top theories of the time with Humboldt’s broad range of research.

The monument, donated by the Humboldt Memorial Association, was dedicated at its original location at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue on September 14, 1869. Gustav Blaeser knew Humboldt and used his death mask as a reference as he sculpted the bust. In 1981 it was moved to its current location at Explorer’s Gate on Central Park West and 77th Street, across from the Museum of Natural History. In 1993 the Central Park Conservancy conserved the Humboldt Monument.

Alexander von Humboldt Details

  • Location: Central Park West and 77th Street
  • Sculptor: Gustaf Blaeser
  • Description: Bust (over life-size) on pedestal
  • Materials: Bronze, Westerly granite
  • Dimensions: Bust H: 4'3"; overall H: 13' W: 6'10" D: 6'
  • Cast: 1869
  • Dedicated: September 14, 1869
  • Foundry: Georg Howaldt & Sohn, Braunschweig
  • Donor: Humboldt Memorial Association

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

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

Directions to Central Park

Know Before You Go

There are currently 3 service interruptions affecting access within this park.

ParkCentral Park

Raccoons in Central Park have tested positive for canine distemper virus. Although the virus cannot be transmitted to humans, it may be transmitted to dogs. Keep your pets safe in the park.

Please avoid wildlife and make sure your pets have up-to-date distemper and rabies vaccines. Keep your pet on a leash, especially during dawn and dusk.

Please call 311 or notify an on-site Parks employee if you see a sick or injured animal.

If you are bitten, wash the wound with soap and water immediately. Call your doctor to see if you need tetanus or rabies shots, and call 311 to report the bite.

The Health Department will continue to monitor this condition.

Anticipated Completion: Summer 2018

Nature CentersBelvedere Castle Visitor Center

Beginning Monday, February 26, Belvedere Castle will be closed for restoration. The castle will reopen to the public in 2019. To reach our Urban Park Rangers at Central Park, please call (212) 360-1444.

ParkCentral Park

Beginning Monday, February 26, Belvedere Castle will be closed for restoration. The surrounding plaza and terrace remain open, but will also close in the coming weeks. The Belvedere will reopen to the public in 2019. For more information on the restoration of Belvedere Castle, please visit Central Park Conservancy's website.

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