I’ve visited Bethesda three times already this week.
Sometimes I just jog by. Sometimes I pause and stretch or whatever. And sometimes I snap a photo or two. As I’ve said before, I’m not quite sure what attracts me to her. But I thought you might like to know a bit more about her.
Designed by Emma Stebbins, the centerpiece of the “Angel of the Waters” was the only
sculpture commissioned as part of the original design of the Park naming her
the first woman to receive a commission for a major work of art in New York City.
Located on the lower level of Bethesda Terrace, this neoclassical
winged female figure symbolizes and celebrates the purifying of the city¹s
water supply when the Croton Aqueduct opened in 1842 bringing fresh water to
all New Yorkers. For this reason she carries a lily, the symbol of purity in one
hand while her other hand extends outward as she blesses the water below.
The stimulus for the idea of the “Angel of the Waters” comes from the
Gospel of Saint John, Chapter 5, the story of an angel bestowing healing
powers on the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. Beneath the eight-foot
gilded bronze statue are four smaller four-foot figures symbolizing Temperance,
Purity, Health, and Peace.
As architect Frederick Law Olmsted intended, Bethesda Terrace marks a transition in the park between the the more traditionally curated spaces downtown (Literary Walk, etc), and the more natural spaces uptown (The Ramble, etc) which reflect the wilds of upstate New York.
These 38-acres of wilderness called the Ramble are one of the true inspirations
of Olmsted and Vaux, the creators of Central Park. The unpredictably of the
Interlaced paths and hills make each visit to this area newly rewarding and
spiritually inspiring. Olmsted called his creation a “wild garden”.
With its countless trees, shrubs, meadows, rocky cliffs and a winding stream it truly lives up to that distinction.
I usually run through The Ramble. It’s a close to actual nature as I can find within the confines of the city. And usually, as close to actual tranquility — inside and out — that I can find in the crowded, crazy days.