Monday, March 3, 2014

Monuments to Women in Bryant Park

March is Women's History Month, and we are proud to have monuments of two powerful women in the park. Next time you're in the park admiring the Fountain or Statue, take a moment to appreciate the contributions that these women made! 

Josephine Shaw Lowell Fountain

Our iconic Josephine Shaw Lowell Fountain, located on the 6th Avenue side of the park, is a gorgeous sight any time of year, whether its streams are dancing merrily in the August sun or frozen in place during a cold January morning. 

From the Bryant Park Archives: 
The Fountain is the first public city monument dedicated to a woman. Josephine Shaw Lowell, born in the mid-19th Century, devoted her life to helping those in need. She joined her husband on the front lines of the American Civil War in Virginia, tending to sick and wounded soldiers, figured prominently in the Progressive movement, and later, was the first woman appointed a Commissioner to the New York State Board of Charities. 

Designed by architect, landscape designer, and painter Charles Adams Platt, the fountain was originally intended for Corlear's Hook Park in the Lower East Side -- where Shaw Lowell had done the majority of her work -- but was instead erected in Bryant Park on the east side, near the William Cullen Bryant monument, and behind the New York Public Library.
The inscription on the Fountain reads:
THIS FOUNTAIN COMMEMORATES / THE STRONG AND BEAUTIFUL CHARACTER OF / JOSEPHINE SHAW LOWELL / 1843-1905 / WIFE FOR ONE YEAR OF A PATRIOT SOLDIER / WIDOW AT TWENTY ONE / SERVANT OF NEW YORK STATE AND CITY / IN THEIR PUBLIC CHARITIES / SINCERE CANDID COURAGEOUS AND TENDER / BRINGING HELP AND HOPE TO THE FAINTING / AND INSPIRING OTHERS TO CONSECRATED LABORS.

Gertrude Stein Statue

Gertrude Stein sits stoically on the 42nd Street side of the park, between the Bryant Park Grill and our world-famous public restrooms.

From the Bryant Park Archives: 
Gertrude Stein (1872-1946) was connected to the ex-pat art and literary scene of the times, coining the term "lost generation," later used by Hemingway to refer to that generation of authors: "You are all a lost generation," epigraph,The Sun Also Rises. Though most well-known for her writing and personal relationships, Stein was a great patron of the arts, amassing an impressive art collection, befriending famous Cubists like Picasso, and contributing to the scene in her own right with screenplays, poems, novels, and essays.

The Bryant Park statue was donated by Dr. Maury Leibovitz, psychologist and art dealer, and unveiled in a small ceremony on November 5, 1992. In addition to the sculpture, Mr. Leibovitz owned an estate formerly belonging to Jo Davidson. Davidson has another Bryant Park connection -- for a time, he worked out of a studio at the Bryant Park Studios, on the corner of 40th Street and Sixth Avenue. So it's fitting that she found a home in the park.


Gertrude stein looks on. What is she thinking about?
You can read more about the Josephine Shaw Lowell Fountain and Gertrude Stein Statue in previous Bryant Park Blog posts by Anne Kumer, our Archivist. You can also read more about the Josephine Shaw Lowell Fountain and the Gertrude Stein Statue on the NYC Parks website.

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