Tuesday, July 21, 2015

NYPL Fountains Restored

Recent visitors to the Fifth Avenue Terrace may have noticed a dramatic change to the fountains in front of the New York Public Library. After 30 years, the dry fountains are again operating. Beauty and Truth, the names of the two fountains, rejoin Patience and Fortitude, the NYPL lions that guard the front entrance, as library icons.

Below, enjoy excerpts from a New York Times article about the fountains' restoration. Photos are our own.

Truth, on the northern side of the NYPL entrance...
and Beauty, on the southern side.

...After three dry decades, water began flowing again this week in the grand fountains flanking the main entrance of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue.

Since then, passers-by have been drawn to the sound and sight of water at the fountains, adorned by allegorical figures of Beauty and Truth. The water pours forth from the mouth of a satyrs’ mask into a giant scallop shell and then cascades from basin to basin to basin to basin...

Behind Patience, on the south, is a fountain showing Beauty as a young woman, by the sculptor Frederick MacMonnies. She stands with the horse Pegasus, symbolizing poetic inspiration, under an inscription taken from “The Shadow and the Light,” by John Greenleaf Whittier:

Old yet ever new
Eternal Voice
and Inward Word.

Behind Fortitude, on the north, is the fountain of Truth, shown by MacMonnies as an old man, with a physique somewhat reminiscent of the sculptor’s notorious “Civic Virtue,” now residing in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. His inscription comes from the Apocrypha:

But above all things
beareth away
the victory.

...That finally came in the form of a gift from the charitable trust of the philanthropist Robert W. Wilson, who committed suicide in 2013. He gave about $90 million to the library during his lifetime.

A spokeswoman for the library said she could not disclose the dollar amount of the gift for the fountains, under an agreement with the trust.

In any case, it was enough to buy entirely new mechanisms — pipes, pumps, drains and filtration controls — manufactured in Florida by Delta Fountains, which was also responsible for the waterfalls at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center...

Identical plaques in front of each of the fountains commemorates the donor who made the restoration possible. 

The water's glassy surface and pleasant bubbling make the Library Terrace a lovely place to sit and stay awhile.

We hope that the fountains will be enjoyed for years to come!

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