Bethesda Terrace

Bethesda Terrace

Bethesda Terrace overlooks The Lake in New York City's Central Park. It is on two levels, united by two grand staircases and a lesser one that passes under Terrace Drive to provide passage southward to the Elkan Naumburg bandshell and The Mall, of which this is the architectural culmination, the theatrical set-piece at the center of the park.

Bethesda Fountain

Bethesda Fountain is the central feature on the lower level of the terrace. The pool is centered by a fountain sculpture designed by Emma Stebbins in 1868 and unveiled in 1873. Stebbins was the first woman to receive a public commission for a major work of art in New York City. The bronze, eight-foot statue depicts a female winged angel touching down upon the top of the fountain, where water spouts and cascades into an upper basin and into the surrounding pool. It was the only statue in the park called for in the original design. Beneath her are four four-foot cherubs representing Temperance, Purity, Health, and Peace. Also called the "Angel of the Waters", the statue refers to the Gospel of John, Chapter 5 where there is a description of an angel blessing the Pool of Bethesda, giving it healing powers. In Central Park the referent is the Croton Aqueduct opened in 1842, providing the city for the first time with a dependable supply of pure water: thus the angel carries a lily in one hand, representing purity, and with the other hand she blesses the water below. The base of the fountain was designed by the architect of all the original built features of Central Park, Calvert Vaux, with sculptural details, as usual, by Jacob Wrey Mould. In Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted's 1858 Greensward Plan, the terrace at the end of the Mall overlooking the naturalistic landscape of the Lake was simply called "The Water Terrace", but after the unveiling of the angel, its name was changed to "Bethesda Terrace".

The fountain, which had been dry for decades, was restored in its initial campaign, 1980-81, by the Central Park Conservancy as the centerpiece of its plan to renovate Central Park. The Terrace, designed by Vaux with sculptural decoration by Mould, was restored in the following season. Resodding, and fifty new trees, 3,500 shrubs and 3,000 ground cover plants followed in 1986, [ [ Central Park Conservancy on-line history] .] most of which, having matured into dense blocks, were removed in 2008, to make way for plants native to the United States. The Minton encaustic tiles of the ceiling of the arcade between the flanking stairs were cleaned, restored, completed with additional new tiles and reinstalled in 2007.

Following an illustration in an 1891 book by the Superintendent of Planting in Central Park, Calvert Vaux's assistant and partner, Samuel Parsons, [Parsons, "Landscape Gardening: Notes and Suggestions on Lawns and Lawn Planting..."(1891), lithograph after a watercolor, page 253] today in summer, the lower basin once again has water liles, lotus and papyrus, grown in removable pots.


* The fountain and terrace are featured in the October 1, 2008 episode of Lipstick Jungle (TV series).
* In Gossip Girl (TV Series), the terrace is a sanctuary for Serena van der Woodsen when she is troubled.
* The statue plays a part in the play and movie, "Angels in America" by Tony Kushner.
* Bialystock prays for Bloom to reconsider at the fountain in "The Producers" by Mel Brooks.
* They Might Be Giants shot their 1988 music video "They'll Need a Crane" at Bethesda Terrace and fountain.
* The fountain is the setting for the final scene between Didi and Sexton in Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" spin-off story "".
* The 1973 movie version of the musical play "Godspell" opens at the Bethesda Fountain with the character John the Baptist (David Haskell) standing in the top pool, holding the hand of the angel, and singing the musical number "Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord".
* The starting point of the first episode of The Amazing Race is at Bethesda Fountain.
* The fountain is referenced as the place Alan Swann bathes nude in My Favorite Year.
* In the 1996 movie "Ransom", the Terrace is the place where Tom Mullen's (Mel Gibson) son Sean is kidnapped during a science contest.
* The statue is featured in the trailer for the video game "Grand Theft Auto IV".
* The fountain is the final scene of the song "That's How You Know" in the 2007 film "Enchanted".
* It is also in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and Elf.
* The statue is featured on the cover art for the 2008 Bauhaus album "Go Away White".
* In the 1997 cult classic "Fools Rush In", Matthew Perry's character mentions the fountain as a place where all of New York passes by.


External links

* [ Angel of the Waters Fountain] at [ Central Park's Official Website]
* [ The Bethesda Terrace and Fountain] at [] the Complete Guide to Central Park
* [ Bethesda Fountain] at On The Inside

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