Grand Army Plaza
This impressive 22-foot-high ornamental fountain in Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza was designed by sculptor Karl Bitter (1867-1915) and architect Thomas Hastings (1860-1929) of the noted New York architectural firm Carrère and Hastings. Orazio Piccirilli, of the Italian-born Bronx family of brothers known for their exceptional sculptural carving, fashioned the ornamental features that adorn the tiered granite fountain.
The fountain was donated by publisher Joseph Pulitzer (1847–1911), who bequeathed funds to erect a fountain. Hungarian-born Pulitzer moved to New York in 1883, after taking ownership of the New York World, the sensational and gossip-filled tabloid that, along with William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal, marked the beginning of the era of yellow journalism in the United States. He also helped institute the Pulitzer Prize, the prestigious award given each year to various journalists, writers, and composers.
For years, sculptor Bitter had a vision of transforming the Grand Army Plaza area to a public space similar to Paris’ Place de la Concorde. By working with architect Hastings, Bitter developed the fountain as a site-specific project that complimented the nearby Sherman Monument (1903), creating a well-designed composition for the plaza. The fountain is topped by the bronze allegorical figure Pomona, the goddess of abundance, who is seen holding a basket of fruit. Sculptor Bitter died in a car accident while working on the figure and it was completed by his assistant, future Parks monuments conservator Karl Gruppe and also Isidore Konti. The fountain was dedicated in 1916.
The original limestone fountain was first restored in 1948 and the 12-foot central basin was replaced with a granite basin in 1970. By the 1980s it had ceased to function properly and was rehabilitated as part of a $3.7 million project, a joint effort between the Central Park Conservancy and nearby business owners, to restore Grand Army Plaza, the fountain, and the statue of Pomona. The replacement central basin developed a crack over time, and had to be replaced with a second granite basin in 1996.
Pulitzer Fountain Details
- Location: Fifth Avenue at 59th Street
- Sculptor: Karl Bitter and Karl Gruppe (figure); Orazio Piccirilli (horns)
- Architect: Thomas Hastings
- Description: Fountain with sculptures: five basins in a stepped pattern support at their highest point a sixth, shell-form basin holding a standing female figure (over life-size); two rams-head horns of plenty flank the third basin
- Materials: Lower basins and horns--Hauteville marble; Sixth basin and figure--bronze
- Dimensions: Fountain H: 22' W: 72' D: 84'; Figure H: 7'9"
- Cast: 1916
- Dedicated: May 1916
- Donor: Estate of Joseph Pulitzer
- Inscription: RESTORED IN 1936 BY D. EVERETT WAID ARCHITECT
RESTORED IN THE 1980'S
AFTER BITTERS DIED, ABUNDANCE STATUE WAS COMPLETE BY ISIDORE