Wondrous Fountains of NYC

Creators
John Robert Moore and Nathan Franklin

Transcript
New York City is home to some of the most impressive fountains in the world. The city can boast of fifty five public fountains within its boundaries. These fountains circulate approximately 1.3 million gallons of water each spring. Most of the fountains are protected by bromine filtration systems since chlorine is too harsh for their aging stone and bronze materials.

The City Hall Park fountain is one of the oldest in Manhattan and was created in 1871. It is made of granite and was moved in 1920 to Crotona Park in the Bronx before being brought back to City Hall in 1999. It was designed by Jacob Wrey Mould who also helped in the creation of the Angel of the Waters Fountain.

The Angel of the Waters Fountain at Bethesda Terrace is perhaps the most well known fountain in the city. It was commissioned in 1873 and dedicated and completed by the board of commissioners of Central Park. The sculpture itself was created by Emma Stebbins. It is made of bronze and commonly referred to as the Angel of the Waters. Based on a verse in the New Testament Gospel of Saint John in which an angel touches the water of the Bethesda pool in Jerusalem, this angelic touch was meant to have a curative power upon the water. Underneath the water creates a veil around figures representing temperance, purity, health and peace.

Then in 1899 the Heinrich Heine Memorial Fountain was erected in Joyce Kilmer Park in the Bronx. It is made of white marble and depicts the figure Lorelei who is the siren in Heine’s poem “Die Lorelei.” The fountain was commissioned by Empress Elisabeth of Austria to commemorate the great German poet Heine and was originally intended to be placed in Dusseldorf. However, anti-Semitic German officials would not allow the tribute and so it was finally shipped in 1899 to the Bronx. There it remained dry for many years before being renovated in 1997.

The Maine Monument and fountain in Columbus Circle came next in 1901. It was commissioned by the media mogul William Randolph Hearst in order to remember the navel disaster of the U.S.S. Maine which sunk near the island of Cuba. It is 44 feet tall and consists of a limestone pylon with a bronze sculpture of Columbia Triumphant riding upon a chariot driven by seahorses. The seahorses represent the navel superiority of the United States.

Then in 1912 the Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain was erected in Bryant Park. It represents the first major monument in the city of New York dedicated to a woman. Josephine Lowell was a young civil war widow who spent her remaining years as a social activist and reformer. The fountain is characterized by its pink granite.

In 1915 the Pulitzer Fountain was erected at Central Park South and Fifth Avenue. It was intended to compete with the Maine fountain and was commissioned by Joseph Pulitzer, who like William Hearst was a media mogul. Pulitzer did not like that the Maine fountain depicted a disaster and so he had his fountain depict the goddess Pomona done in Bronze. It was sculpted by Carl Bitter and the architect was Thomas Hastings.

The Fountain at Lincoln Center is an iconic one for the city. Designed in 1964 by Philip Johnson it has been featured in several movies including The Producers, Ghostbusters and Annie Hall. It underwent major renovations in 2009 and now has a new granite rim, 353 computer-controlled nozzles and 272 lights.

Most recently in November 2010 the water for the first Sept. 11 memorial fountain was turned on. The two fountains at the site have the name Reflecting Absence and feature the names of 9/11 victims etched in a bronze parapet that is back lit for night viewing. The monument is the nation’s largest manmade waterfall and circulates 480,000 heated gallons of water, about 52,000 a minute. The sounds of the rushing water bring peace to the survivors of the disaster and remind us of the restorative power of the city’s many fountains.

Bibliography and credits
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