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Next to the Central Park Lake is the beautiful Bethesda Fountain, an iconic sculpture that was situated here as part of the original park design. Gaze up at the 8-foot (2.4-meter) bronze angel rising to a height of 26 feet (8 meters) over cherubs representing health, purity, temperance, and peace. Water sprays outward over the cherubs, falling into a basin and then cascading into a pool at the center of a square paved with bricks.
Emma Stebbins designed the fountain in 1868 and the city unveiled it in 1873. Notice the winged angel reaching down toward the delicate sprays of clear water at her feet. Stebbins intended the Angel of the Waters to represent a blessing of clean water delivered to New York City residents through the Croton Aqueduct. The name Bethesda comes from a pool mentioned in the Bible’s Gospel of St. John.
Note that Stebbins was a pioneer in several ways. She became the first woman commissioned by New York City to create a major work and one of the first in the nation. She also was publicly a lesbian, in a long relationship with the actress Charlotte Cushman.
Look from the fountain toward Bethesda Terrace, a striking arched two-story terrace flanked by wide staircases. Beyond the terrace see a few high-rise towers of southern Manhattan rising over the treetops of Central Park. Under the terrace is a passage with more than 15,000 patterned Minton ceiling tiles and trompe l’oeil paintings on the wall.
Sit at a bench near the fountain on summer days and watch people rowing boats across the lake. Watch colorful leaves floating down past the statue’s outstretched wings in autumn. In winter, the angel seems to float above white snow in the heart of one of the world’s largest cities.
Find the Bethesda Fountain at the southern edge of New York City’s Central Park Lake. One of the most delightful ways to approach the fountain is through the lower level of the Bethesda Terrace to see the arches providing a picturesque framing of the winged sculpture.
It's worth giving yourself loads of time at Bethesda Fountain. Below are the most popular things to do:
Why don't you consider purchasing a Sunset Tour of Central Park? It's one of the most interesting experiences available here.
For more activities, examine our New York things to do page.
Located in Midtown, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of 5th Avenue and Grand Central Terminal. Chrysler Building and St. Patrick's Cathedral are also within 10 minutes. Grand Central - 42 St. Station is 5 minutes by foot and 5 Av Station (W. 42nd St.) is 5 minutes.
Located in Midtown, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Central Park and Columbus Circle. Lincoln Center and Metropolitan Opera House are also within 10 minutes. 59 St. - Columbus Circle Station is only a 5-minute walk and 57 St. - 7 Av Station is 5 minutes.
Located in Midtown, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Carnegie Hall, Central Park, and 5th Avenue. Columbus Circle and Ed Sullivan Theater are also within 10 minutes. 5 Av.-53 St. Station is only a 4-minute walk and 57 St. Station is 5 minutes.
Located in the heart of New York, this family-friendly hotel is steps from Metropolitan Opera House, Central Park, and Lincoln Center. Columbus Circle and Juilliard School are also within 10 minutes. 66 St. - Lincoln Center Station and 59 St. - Columbus Circle Station are within a 5-minute walk.
Located in Midtown, this boutique hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Times Square and Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Broadway and Central Park are also within 1 mi (2 km). Times Sq. - 42 St. Station is 12 minutes by foot and 34 St. - Penn Station is 14 minutes.
Located in Midtown, this hotel is steps from Central Park and 5th Avenue. Madison Avenue and Tiffany & Co. are also within 5 minutes. 57 St. Station is only a 3-minute walk and 5 Av.-53 St. Station is 6 minutes.
Located in Midtown, this hotel is steps from Carnegie Hall and Ed Sullivan Theater. Central Park and Broadway Theatre are also within 5 minutes. 7 Av. Station (E 53rd St.) and 50 St. Station (Broadway) are within a 5-minute walk.
Located in Midtown, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Madison Square Garden, Macy's, and Empire State Building. Times Square and Broadway are also within 15 minutes. 34 St. - Penn Station (Fashion Av.) is only a 2-minute walk and 28 St. Station (7th Av.) is 4 minutes.