Bethesda Fountain is the central feature on the lower level of Bethesda Terrace overlooking The Lake in New York City's Central Park. The pool is centered by a fountain sculpture designed by Emma Stebbins in 1868. Stebbins was the first woman to receive a commission for a major work of art in New York City.
The bronze, eight-foot statue depicts a winged angel touching down upon the top of the fountain, where water spouts and cascades into an upper basin and into the surrounding pool. Beneath her are four four-foot cherubs representing Temperance, Purity, Health and Peace.
The statue is also referred to as The Angel of the Waters, a name taken from the Gospel of John which contains a description of an angel blessing the Pool of Bethesda, giving it healing powers. The angel carries a lily in one hand, representing purity, and with the other hand she blesses the water below.
Did you know? The Bethesda Fountain Terrace Arcade has a Minton tile ceiling, the only known example in the world where Minton encaustic ceramic tiles are used in a suspended ceiling. All 15,876 elaborately patterned tiles were removed for cleaning in 1984 and remained in storage for over 20 years.
After a $7 million effort funded by the Central Park Conservancy, the treasured tiles were restored and the Terrace reopened in spring 2007. Earlier that year, the NY Times published a cool interactive detailing the restoration of the Arcade. The site is still accessible.
What could be more beautiful, I ask you?
*I intended to offer this post before I pulled up stakes a couple of weeks ago. But, alas, so many of my best intentions meet the same fate: indefinite postponement or abandonment. It's a sorry lot. But here I am (at least for now) - and there's no time like the present to cast out something of beauty. One of my favorite NY spots is at the feet of The Angel of the Waters. She never fails to soothe my weary soul.
:santi-jose, mike knight, jenn german, amanda lyra, tim brauhn, daniel avila, nyc parks & recreation