10 Lesser-Known Monuments to Visit in New York City’s Central Park

There are few cities anywhere as vibrant as New York City. At almost any hour of the day the city hums with activity. Almost everyone is familiar with New York’s classic sites like the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the 9-11 Memorial and the Statue of Liberty. But there are a few excellent monuments even frequent visitors don’t often see and we want to acquaint you with those now, all within walking distance of each other in Central Park! In each case there is a terrific backstory, so spend a few minutes with this article and let us know the next time you want to travel to New York!

  • Strawberry Fields: The John Lennon Memorial

    Strawberry Fields: The John Lennon Memorial
    Central Park West at West 72nd Street

    Strawberry Fields, located in Central Park is 2.5 acres dedicated as a memorial to John Lennon. The park is located close to Lennon’s 72nd Street apartment, the Dakota. Lennon was just outside of his apartment when he was murdered. Yoko Ono still lives there and provided an endowment for the establishment and maintenance of the monument. Many others contributed to the building of the memorial as well. The chief landscape architect for the Central Park Conservancy, Bruce Kelly, designed the memorial. The monument is often covered with flowers and gifts from fans. The single word “Imagine” is captioned on the memorial mosaic.

    See More
  • African Burial Ground National Monument

    African Burial Ground National Monument
    290 Broadway, New York, NY 10007

    Called the “Negroes Burial Ground” the site is the largest colonial era cemetery for those of African Descent. The African Burial Ground became a National Historic Landmark in 1993. President George W Bush declared the area a National monument in 2006 and it was dedicated in 2007. African Burial Ground is the oldest and largest known excavated burial ground in North America for both free and enslaved Africans. In 1991, construction began on a 34-story federal office tower positioned on 290 Broadway and overseen by the General Services Administration. During excavation, intact human skeletal remains of more than 15,000 individuals were located 30 feet below street level. Further examination uncovered a 6-acre burial ground. The ancestral remains were reinterred within the original site of rediscovery and the external memorial and research library constructed.

    See More
  • Duke Ellington Monument

    Duke Ellington Monument
    Central Park 110th Street at 5th

    Sculptor Robert Graham created this masterful monument at the behest of pianist Bobby Short who began raising funds in 1979. Eighteen years later in 1997, the monument was dedicated to jazz great Duke Ellington at the “Gateway to Harlem” at the north west corner of Central Park. Surrounded by a small amphitheater, the monument portrays Duke Ellington standing next to a baby grand piano.

    Image courtesy of the Central Park Conservancy

    See More
  • Alice in Wonderland Sculpture

    Alice in Wonderland Sculpture
    Central Park East Side at 75th Street

    In 1959, Publisher George Delacorte conceived of and commissioned a bronze statue as a gift to New York City’s children. Alice sits with her friends perched on a mushroom. The White Rabbit is offering her a pocket watch as the Cheshire Cat looks over her shoulder. Delacorte commissioned the sculptor from José de Creeft. This is a wonderful find and close by Strawberry fields, so pay Alice a visit on you next very important date.

    Image courtesy of the Central Park Conservancy

    See More
  • USS Maine National Monument

    USS Maine National Monument
    Central Park West, 59th Street and Columbus Circle

    Architect Harold Van Buren Magonigle designed and sculptors Attilio Piccirilli and Charles Keck executed this pylon fountain embellished with heroic figures and plaques. Constructed of granite, marble and bronze, the monument was cast in 1912 and dedicated in 1913 to the mend killed about the USS Maine. The bronze for some of the sculptures reputedly comes from recovered metal from the guns of the Maine which exploded in Havana harbor.

    Image courtesy of the Central Park Conservancy

    See More
  • The Obelisk: Cleopatra’s Needle

    The Obelisk: Cleopatra’s Needle
    Central Park: East Side at 81st Street

    Cleopatra’s Needle in Central Park is one of three such structures given to England, France and the United States in 1877. Originally erected in the city of Heliopolis, the structure is made of red granite. The obelisk stands about 69 feet high, weighs 200 tons, and is inscribed with hieroglyphs. It was transported by ship to the United States and erected in Central Park in 1881. It is the oldest monument in New York City.

    See More
  • The Balto Dog Monument

    The Balto Dog Monument
    Central Park East Drive and 67th Street

    Man’s best friend in memorialized in Central Park at the Balto Dog Monument. In 1925 Nome Alaska suffered an outbreak of diphtheria, a sever bacterial infection that can lead to difficulty breathing, heart failure and death. Vaccines exist, but in 1925 Nome, not nearly enough was on-hand to treat the affected. Because no other transportation was available, teams of sled dogs and mushers travel more than 650 miles to Anchorage to retrieve antitoxin through several blizzards of sub-zero temperatures. Sculptor Frederick George Richard Roth unveiled the monument on December 15th, 1925 with the real Balto present and in attendance.

    Image courtesy of the Central Park Conservancy

    See More
  • William Shakespeare Monument

    William Shakespeare Monument
    Central Park South end at East 66th Street

    The bronze statue of playwright William Shakespeare has a terrific history. The sculpture was erected with funds raised from a performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar at The Winter Garden Theatre on November 25, 1864. The actors that night were brothers: Edwin Booth, Junius Brutus Booth, Jr. and their younger brother, John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Lincoln. John Quincy Adams Ward sculpted the statue.

    Image courtesy of the Central Park Conservancy

    See More
  • Hans Christian Anderson Sculpture

    Hans Christian Anderson Sculpture
    74th Street near Fifth Avenue

    Danish Author Hans Christian Andersen is memorialized in Central Park, portrayed feeding a duck. Best remembered for his short story fairy tales, Andersen was a prolific writer who authored more than 3300 fairy tales: “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, “The Little Mermaid”, “The Nightingale”, “The Snow Queen”, “The Ugly Duckling”, “The Little Match Girl” and “Thumbelina” are all childhood favorites of many readers. The book in his sculpted hand is turned to the opening lines of “The Ugly Duckling.” The sculptor was George John Lober.

    See More
  • Mother Goose, Central Park Rumsey Playground

    Mother Goose
    Central Park Rumsey Playground, E. Drive at 72nd St.

    Like many of the other monuments represented here, Mother Goose holds a significance for children. Frederick George Richard Roth (1872-1944) created this piece from a 13-ton block of granite. Astride a large Goose is a witch in the company of Humpty Dumpty, Little Jack Horner, Mother Hubbard, Old King Cole with Mary and her little lamb. The sculpture as dedicated in 1938. Roth has several other sculptures in the park, including the Balto Dog sculpture also mentioned here.

    Image courtesy of the Central Park Conservancy

    See More