Location: 67th Street, east side
Artist/Designer: Frederick George Richard Roth
Materials: Bronze, slate, natural rock
Funding: Balto Monument Committee
In January 1925, a diphtheria epidemic struck Nome, Alaska. The fastest way to deliver the life-saving diphtheria serum was by open-cockpit airplane, but planes were grounded by adverse weather conditions. As a result, the only way to save the stricken town was to deliver the serum by sled-dog team, a journey often in blizzard conditions with temperatures of 50 degrees below zero. In a relay against time, 20 teams comprising more than 200 dogs and their handlers made the six-day, 674-mile trek as an international audience followed their progress over the radio. At times the last musher, Gunnar Kasson, could not see the trail through the blizzard. He trusted his lead dog, Balto, a black-and-white Alaskan malamute, to find the way.
On December 17, 1925, 10 months after his arrival in Nome, Balto was present as this bronze statue by Brooklyn-born Roth was unveiled in Central Park. Balto died in 1933 in Cleveland, Ohio, where his stuffed body is on display at Cleveland’s Natural History Museum.
The heroic 1925 journey is now celebrated annually in Alaska with the Iditarod, a long-distance sled-dog race run in early March from Anchorage to Nome.
Click on the photo to enlarge