‘Bronze Ceiling’ Broken; Design for First Monument to Real Women in Central Park Approved

A rendering of the statue of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth planned for Central Park.

By Carol Tannenhauser

The rendering pictured above is one step closer to becoming reality — the first statue of historical women in Central Park, where around two dozen monuments to men, cartoons and animals currently reside.

On Tuesday, the New York City Public Design Commission approved the preliminary design for a statue honoring women’s rights pioneers Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The statue will be placed in a prominent spot on the famed Literary Mall, and will be unveiled on August 26, 2020, the centennial anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, when American women won the constitutional right to vote.

“With this statue we are finally breaking the bronze ceiling,” said Pam Elam, president of Monumental Women, the nonprofit organization that spearheaded and raised the $1.5 million needed to fund the project. “It’s fitting that the first statue of real women in Central Park depicts three New York women who dedicated their lives to fighting for women’s rights,” Elam said.

Sojourner Truth, a former slave and famed abolitionist and suffragette, was not in the original design, which only featured Anthony and Stanton. Critics protested the lack of African-American representation, and sculptor Meredith Bergmann, whose works include the Boston Women’s Memorial and the September 11th Memorial at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, redesigned the monument to depict the three women working together.

“Like the women I’m portraying, my work is meant to raise questions and to provoke thought,” said Bergmann, in a statement. ”My hope is that all people, but especially young people, will be inspired by this image of women of different races, different religious backgrounds and different economic status working together to change the world.”

Currently, the only women represented in Central Park are Alice in Wonderland, Juliet, and Mother Goose.

ART, NEWS, OUTDOORS | 8 comments | permalink
    1. Barbara Adler says:

      Very happy that the Public Design Commission saw clear to approve this beautiful design. I’m excited to see it finally ensconced on Literary Mall. Bravo Meredith Bergmann for such an inspired piece.

    2. Filatura says:

      About time! Thanks to the Monumental Women organization, and thanks to Meredith Bergmann, whose revised design looks so much livelier and more appealing than the standard-issue statues of guys posing with their hands stuck in their vests. (Always wondered what they had in there.) Anthony, Stanton and Truth look as though they are at work on the future.

    3. MB/UWSer says:

      This is very interesting.

      In honor of female representation, what about Emma Stebbins? She is best known for her work of Bethesda Fountain/Angel of the Waters, the magnificent statue in Bethesda Terrace.

      The purpose behind the sculpture is important to the city’s history, as well as “It was the earliest public artwork by a woman in New York City and the only sculpture sanctioned as part of the early design and construction phase of Central Park.” – http://www.nyclgbtsites.org/site/bethesda-fountain

    4. Bob Lamm says:

      For anyone who may be interested… feminists in London have received official permission and have raised funds to create a sculpture memorial honoring Mary Wollstonecraft, the author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). A female sculptor has been chosen, has had a design approved, and the memorial could be up as early as spring or summer 2020. It will be in London’s Newington Green, where Wollstonecraft ran a school for girls.

      More information at http://www.maryonthegreen.org or at Mary on the Green on Facebook.

    5. fran quittel says:

      In researching the Notes for The Central Park Lost Mitten Party (Regent Press, second printing, 2019), I learned that Emma Stebbins, the first woman artist to receive a major art commission in NYC was also the sister of Henry Stebbins, at the time, the President of the Central Park Board of Commissioners, (p. 27) Women have always played key roles in Central Park,and this is a super contemporary addition, as are the many activities of the Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy.

    6. LKLA says:

      What about a monument to single fathers who work, raise their children and make huge sacrifices?

      Is there a monument honoring people with disabilities?

      Anyone know if there is a monument giving credit to all the philanthropists in NYC that contribute so much our city?