One of the highlights of Central Park is the Mall, a straight walk in the center of the park, spanning from about 72nd to 66th Streets. A quiet but well-traveled walk, the Mall is surrounded on either side by American Elm trees, some of the last remaining on the continent. Continue your travels through New York City’s big backyard, and follow along as some of the best artworks and natural beauty are discovered.
As you travel down this peaceful walk, breathe in the pages of a well-read book, listen to the lullabies of talented musicians, embrace your sense of adventure, and revel in these natural surroundings.
• Bethesda Fountain: At the very head of the Mall, above the 72nd Street Transverse, is a lovely fountain also known as the Angel of the Waters. Based on the Gospel of John, the angel blesses the Pool of Bethesda, supposedly giving it healing powers. The lily in her left hand is also a symbol of purity, especially important when the fountain was erected, as the city had recently overcome a cholera epidemic in the 1830s. The graceful beauty overlooks the Lake, and can also be viewed from the Point (a secluded spot that juts out into the water) or from the scenic Loeb Boathouse. With this fountain, Emma Stebbins, the artist, became the first female to earn a public art commission in the city.
• Bethesda Arcade: The Arcade, a beautiful piece of architecture at Bethesda Terrace, lies at the bottom of a grand staircase and opens out to the Angel of the Waters fountain below. Created in the 1860s, the arcade features ornate columns and arches, as well as painted walls reminiscent of glorious European cathedrals and palaces. The main attraction of the arcade however, is the ceiling, made entirely of Minton tiles. Rich blue, cream, burgundy, and green glint at the visitor. Designed by Jacob Wrey Mould in 1869, there are over 15,000 tiles weighing at 50 tons, all created by Britain’s Minton Tile Company. Bethesda Arcade is the only place in the world to feature these tiles on the ceiling.
• Johann von Schiller: The very first sculpture to be installed in the park, this image of the famed German poet, philosopher and playwright rests at 72nd Street, where the Mall begins. Created by C.L. Richter, this bronze was created in 1859, and has provided inspiration for many a budding writer ever since.
• Ludwig von Beethoven: Placed in Central Park in 1884 by the Beethoven Mannerchor (a German-American choir), the bronze sculpture commemorates a brilliant composer. The spot where it now resides is actually where concerts used to be held, in the original bandstand over 100 years ago.
• Victor Herbert: A few steps down from the famed German musician rests a special tribute to an Irish composer known for his talent at cello. He was a brilliant composer and conductor, playing not far from where his statue sits. The bronze work was created by Edmund Thomas Quinn and was installed in the park in 1927.
• Eagles and Prey: This detailed bronze sculpture was created in 1850 by Christopher Fratin, a sculptor who also happens to have been the son of a taxidermist. The work portrays two eagles, wings stretched wide, mouths open, swooping down upon a goat trapped between rocks. The detail in this sculpture is amazing to look at – from each individual feather on the eagles’ wings, to their open talons, to the goat’s disheveled coat and his weakened gaze, it is obvious the sculptor had a great talent as well as a love of animals.
To continue on your walk down Central Park’s Mall, please click here.