Location: 72nd Street, mid-Park
Artist/Designer: Jacob Wrey Mould and Calvert Vaux
Materials: New Brunswick sandstone
Installation: c. 1864
Funding: The City of New York
Two-tiered Bethesda Terrace is the architectural masterpiece of Central Park. Near the center of the Park, the Terrace is considered its “heart.” While clearly a formal, man-made landscape, the terrace has nature as its sculptural theme.
The northern end of the Mall terminates at the Upper Terrace. Flanking its center are two piers or square columns carved with scenes of day and night. The eastern pier features the rising sun, a rooster greeting the day, and a wheat field – a bucolic view of a workday when most New Yorkers were engaged in manufacturing, not farming. The western pier showcases the evening, with a Bible and oil lamp, an owl, and a witch riding her broom through the sky.
Across 72nd Street (called Olmsted and Vaux Way in the Park) are two staircases. Their decoration is the flora and fauna of the seasons, beginning with Spring on the easternmost balustrade. The westernmost side includes the only man-made object on the balustrades: a pair of ice skates.
Bethesda Terrace (Piers and Balustrades)
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