Parks Department approves Central Park’s first monument to historic females

Posted On Mon, November 6, 2017 By

Posted On Mon, November 6, 2017 By In History, Policy

On the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in New York state, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation will make an announcement today that it’s moving ahead with a proposal to erect a monument to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in Central Park. First reported by West Side Rag, the statue of the two suffragists will be Central Park’s first monument to historic women and only the sixth in the entire city. It will be placed on the mall, which runs from 66th to 72nd Streets in the middle of the park, and will be unveiled on another important date–the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote nationally on August 26, 2020.

The group uses the hashtag #MonumentalWomen

A nonprofit group called The Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Statue Fund, Inc. has been advocating and raising funds for the past several years to have the monument erected. As Gothamist previously reported, though, they were struggling to work through the Parks Department’s red tape. But the agency has now committed to moving the process forward, saying in a statement that the monument “highlights the need for a history that accurately tells women’s stories” and “will honor the memory of the many others who worked tirelessly to advance women’s rights, including Sojourner Truth, Lucy Stone, Mary Church Terrell, Anna Howard Shaw and Ida B. Wells-Barnett.”

The Central Park Mall, via Wiki Commons

The Statue Fund originally proposed that the monument be placed at the West 77th Street park entrance, strategically located across from the New-York Historical Society and the American Museum of Natural History. However, the chosen location along the mall was “selected in accordance with the dictates of the park’s original designers, Olmsted and Vaux, who identified two locations where commemorative sculpture should be sited in the park: entrances along the perimeter and The Mall,” according to Parks’ statement.

Walter Scott statue, Central Park statues, Central Park mall, Literary WalkThe Walter Scott statue, via Wiki Commons

Specifically, it will be at the northwest corner of what’s known as Literary Walk. The existing sculptures along this stretch include those of poet Fitz-Greene Halleck, Scottish poet Robert Burns, Scottish Novelist Sir Walter Scott, Christopher Columbus, and William Shakespeare.

Though Central Park has certain statues of females, such as the Alice in Wonderland statue, they are fictional characters. On the contrary, there are 23 statues of historical men. Likewise, only five of the city’s public monuments are women–Joan of Arc, Golda Meir, Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Har­riet Tubman.

Estimates from the Statue Fund put the cost of commissioning, installing, and maintaining the statue at $1.5 million, which, as of now, is not going to be covered by the city. A year ago, the group received a $500,000 grant from the New York Life insurance company but is still fundraising for the remainder. They also put out a request for proposals today for sculptors to design the monument.

On a related note, Governor Cuomo announced today that the state will build two statues of suffragettes–one of Sojourner Truth on the Empire State Trail in Ulster County where she was born and one of Rosalie Gardiner Jones in Cold Spring Harbor State Park on Long Island.

[Via West Side Rag]

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