The Bethesda Fountain:
The Heart of New York City

The Bethesda Fountain is nestled in the popular Central Park of New York City. It is part of the overlooking Bethesda Terrace which is used to be known as the Water Terrace. The latter was renamed Bethesda Terrace in 1873 when the fountain was revealed upon its completion.

The Bethesda Fountain is adjacent to both the Central Park Lake, which is the biggest body of water in the park, and the Ramble, which is a 36-acre area that’s built with walking paths, scenic enclaves and tiny streams. It was designed by Emma Stebbins, the first female artist who was given a massive and high profile commission in the U.S.

Standing at a height of 8 feet, the Bethesda Fountain is affectionately called “Angel of Water” by the locals because of the way it depicts a beautiful angel with flowing wings. The angel, which is placed gently on top of the fountain, has her left hand carrying a lily and her eyes carefully watching over the hundreds of visitors who go to Central Park every day. From the angel’s hand down to the fountain, there is water that forcefully ripples into a beautiful wading pool. Underneath, there are four small cherubs with each one representing different virtues such as health, peach, temperance and purity.

In the 1800s, New York City was plagued with infectious diseases which easily spread because of contaminated and unsafe drinking water. As a result, numerous deaths and plague-like city conditions had occurred. The lily in the angel’s hand symbolizes the Croton Aqueduct system that was built in 1842. The aqueduct system not only supplied water to the fountain but was also responsible for supplying the city with clean drinking water.

At first glance, the angel in the fountain seemed to resemble Nike, the winged messenger from Greek mythology. In reality, it was inspired by the Gospel of John which described how the waters of Bethesda received healing powers from an angel.

The Bethesda Fountain and Terrace can be found on Fifth Avenue and is now one of the city’s most popular recreation areas. It is a favorite among visitors who are seeking a cool and relaxing escape on warm afternoons.

The Bethesda Fountain, with its romantic charm and timeless beauty, has made a number of appearances in the film industry and in Broadway. It is one of the world’s most photographed and visited fountains. It is also intimately linked to the cultural and historic legacy of New York City.