History of the 1912 Josephine Shaw Lowell Fountain in Bryant Park

NYC - Bryant Park: Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain | Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain
Architect Charles A. Platt (1861–1933) designed this elegant black granite ornamental fountain to commemorate social worker and reformer Josephine Shaw Lowell (1843–1905). Shaw, who is said to be the first woman to be honored by a major monument in New York City, was the first female member of the New York State Board of Charities, serving from 1876 to 1889.

The Memorial Committee that worked to build the fountain originally wanted it placed in Corlear’s Hook Park on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, near where Shaw focused her energies. Instead, the fountain, with its 32-foot-wide lower basin and 13-foot-wide upper basin, was ultimately installed at the east side of Bryant Park in 1913. In 1936 the fountain was moved to the west side of the park. The fountain was refurbished as part of an overall restoration of the park by the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation, completed in 1992.

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NYC - Bryant Park: Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain | Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain Architect Charles A. Platt (1861–1933) designed this elegant black granite ornamental fountain to commemorate social worker and reformer Josephine Shaw Lowell (1843–1905). Shaw, who is said to be the first woman to be honored by a major monument in New York City, was the first female member of the New York State Board of Charities, serving from 1876 to 1889. The Memorial Committee that worked to build the fountain originally wanted it placed in Corlear’s Hook Park on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, near where Shaw focused her energies. Instead, the fountain, with its 32-foot-wide lower basin and 13-foot-wide upper basin, was ultimately installed at the east side of Bryant Park in 1913. In 1936 the fountain was moved to the west side of the park. The fountain was refurbished as part of an overall restoration of the park by the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation, completed in 1992. www.nycgovparks.org/parks/bryantpark/highlights/12352
Photo: icoNYCa

Josephine Shaw Lowell was a progressive leader in many difficult causes of the 1800's, women's rights, eradication of poverty, education and civil service. She did many great things for the City of New York, and when she died in 1905, it was decided that a monument should be created for her.

A committee was formed and its decision was a memorial fountain. […] “The handsome Josephine Shaw Lowell memorial fountain to be erected in New York City is being cut at the yard of Milne & Hector.” The magazine reported that ten train cars were required to transport the rough pink granite quarried in Stony Creek, Connecticut. “The bowl of the fountain is 12.6 in diameter and rests on a pedestal which is to be elaborately carved. Around this pedestal is to be a pool of water, outside of which is a granite walk six feet wide. The total wide of the pool and walk being something like forty feet.”

Check out the full article on the Daytonian in Manhattan for a detailed history on Josephine Shaw Lowell and all of her incredible accomplishments.

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