This is an August 2020 update to an older post.
For the first time in history, a bronze statue depicting and celebrating the achievements of women joined the myriad monuments honoring men, animals and fictional characters in the storied park.
A statue of three women’s rights pioneers was unveiled in Central Park on Wednesday — becoming the 167-year-old green expanse’s first monument to real-life female figures.
The bronze sculpture, located in the park’s Literary Walk, honors Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, key figures in the women’s equality movement, each with roots in the Big Apple.
The city plans to place the “Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Woman Suffrage Movement Monument” in 2020. It will be located at the south end of Literary Walk.
I wrote, last year, that the only monuments depicting females in the park are Alice in Wonderland, Mother Goose, Juliet (from Romeo and Juliet) and a variety of nymphs and other mystical creatures. Also, there are woman statues in other parks (see below).
Post from January 2016
Nestled amid the greenery of Central Park are some rather inexplicable statues of men of history — such as King Jagiello, a 14th-century Polish king, and Albert Bertel Thorvaldsen, a Danish sculptor who lived in the 18th century. Not included in the park’s 29 monuments dedicated to historical notables are any real women.
Currently, the only female figures to be honored with statues in the park are fictional (and not necessarily human), like Mother Goose and Alice in Wonderland.
However, the city’s Parks Department has granted conceptual approval to an effort to erect a statue of Elizabeth Cady Stanton* and Susan B. Anthony by the park’s West 77th Street entrance.
*Born on November 12, 1815, in Johnstown, New York, Elizabeth Cady Stanton was an abolitionist and leading figure of the early woman’s movement. An eloquent writer, her Declaration of Sentiments was a revolutionary call for women’s rights across a variety of spectrums. Stanton was the president of the National Woman Suffrage Association for 20 years and worked closely with Susan B. Anthony.
As of now, only a few of the 800 or so sculptures in New York City’s parks feature historical women:
Eleanor Roosevelt and Joan of Arc, which are both located in Riverside Park. In case you are wondering, the others are Gertrude Stein, Golda Meir, and Harriet Tubman.
Throughout the city a few women are honored. On the I. Miller Building at Broadway and 46th Street there are sculptures of Mary Pickford, Ethel Barrymore, Marilyn Miller, and Rosa Ponselle.
In the Bronx at the Bronx Community College’s Hall of Fame for Great Americans, busts of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Susan B. Anthony, Mary Lyon, Maria Mitchell, Emma Willard, Alice Freeman Palmer, and Lillian Wald are included.
Then there are a few statues on churches of saints and of real women on private property that have a public presence, like the statue of Mother Clara Hale at the Hale House.
There is the face of a female model – Audrey Munson who posed for several statues including the Isador and Ida Straus Memorial.
September 2020 Addition
Women of STEM
Central Park was recently the site of another effort to honor women of accomplishment – an initiative recognizing women who work in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) with 6 statues (part of an exhibit of 122 female statues) 4on display at Central Park Zoo through Oct. 31.The exhibits goal l is for girls everywhere to see STEM as exciting, relevant, and cool.The six women depicted all work in wildlife conservation: Kristine Inman, wildlife biologist, Wildlife Conservation Society; Rae Wynn-Grant, large carnivore ecologist, National Geographic Society; Dorothy Tovar, Stanford University microbiologist; Jess Cramp, shark researcher and marine conservationist, Sharks Pacific; Earyn McGee, herpetologist focused on lizards, University of Arizona; and Kristen Lear, bat conservationist, Bat Conservation International.