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Bethesda Fountain

Stroll through peaceful Central Park and relax and reflect next to this very large neoclassical sculpture designed by a pioneering artist.

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.

Popular Activities at Bethesda Fountain

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.


Guide to Exploring around Bethesda Fountain


Map

Best Lodging Options Near Bethesda Fountain

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The Roosevelt Hotel, New York City CA $148
The Roosevelt Hotel, New York City

The Roosevelt Hotel, New York City

45 E 45th Street, New York, NY
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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    Hudson New York, Central Park CA $158
    Hudson New York, Central Park

    Hudson New York, Central Park

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      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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      Salisbury Hotel

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        3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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        Empire Hotel

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          YOTEL New York

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            Park Lane Hotel

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              Park Central Hotel New York

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