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Josephine Shaw Lowell fountain, Bryant Park

Foundations of America

QU201 Prof. Scott Leone

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Home Stony Creek Granite Sites Monuments & Parks Josephine Shaw Lowell fountain, Bryant Park

Josephine Shaw Lowell fountain, Bryant Park

Josephine Shaw Lowell Fountain is located in New York City, at Bryant Park which is one of the most beautiful parks in Manhattan.  Bryant Park is grassland of eight acres that is in the intersection of 42nd street and Sixth Avenue.  The street 42nd is also one of the most famous streets in America; it is the street of Times Square where everyone watches the ball drop for the New Year.  Also located on this street is Grand Central Terminal which is filled with pink stony creek granite basically everywhere.  There is granite inside basing the foundation of Grand Central, and outside along the sidewalks at certain spots, and it is an entire entrance to a subway for Grand Central outside the station with granite in it too.  The fountain at Bryant Park is a striking sight to see and stop and take a few pictures of.  This fountain was donated to Josephine Shaw Lowell who was born on December 16, 1843 and died on October 12, 1905; she made great steps on furthering the United States into a better overall society.  The fountain was placed in Bryant Park in the year of 1913.  The fountain is the main attraction set up in the middle of the walk way to enter the park making it impossible to not see it.  The park is in the center of two main streets with a lot of traffic traveling on these streets, but it is still known to be one the most peaceful areas in New York City.  The park is surrounded by tress and is one of the few areas in New York City that there is grass, and sometimes living in the city it is pleasant to find some grass and be able to be in harmony with no buildings surrounding  everywhere you look.

Bryant Park was originated in the 19th century and was called Reservoir square; this name came from a square that was across the street, Croton reservoir.  Later, in 1884 the square was re-named Bryant square because of a man named William Cullen Bryant who was a poet and a lawyer.  He was one of the most influential advocates to help abolish slavery and had part in the building of Central Park.  The Croton reservoir was then demolished in 1899 where the New York public library was put in the place of the reservoir and is still currently today near the Josephine Shaw Lowell fountain. 

Bryant Park contains Josephine Shaw Lowell fountain and other surrounding buildings that can be viewed from the park.  On the east side of the park is the New York public library was established in 1911.  The library is not facing the park, only the back is seen from the park.  The next building is the American Radiator building which is now renamed as the Bryant Park Hotel.  The next building is Bryant Park studio that is located on 40th street with a Beaux-Arts style building.  The last memorable building is the Bank of America Tower, which was not fully completed until 2009.

Bryant Park is known for their other activities too, besides their peaceful environment and one of the few places with grass in New York City.  Bryant Park is most famous for their Citi Pond; it is the center of attention during the winter time.  It is about the size of a regular hockey rink and it is used to skate on during the winter time for tourists.  Citi Pond is known for being used in the winter time, but it is also occupied throughout fall and spring in the colder areas of these two seasons.  It is a highly attractive event in the winter time, along with Times Square’s skating area.  The pond is skated among by people of all ages and skill levels, but is maintained at a slow pace and is a pleasant sight to see people laughing and smiling while skating around the pond.  Bryant Park is run by Bryant Park Corporations, and they have numerous activities throughout each week.  Some involve events for children and others for fashion week, where fashion industries come together and have their own day at the park to discuss fashion ideas and to have the day to relax and enjoy some fashion activities.  There is a carousel in the park as well, for the kids to enjoy the grass too and be on an outside ride.

Bryant Park also has many spots for sitting and taking a break from the fast pace environment of New York City.  It is also the first park to establish Wi-Fi satellite on their entire surface of the park.  This was a major boost to citizens living near the park; they were excited when this was first heard of.  It is known that many college students attending school in the city, are most likely the ones to be caught using the internet access, it is a good spot to sit down and enjoy the outside environment and get some work completed.  These sitting areas are also a big attraction for older people to play a game of chess, it is said to be “exciting” at times to watch the chess games because of how some frustrations raise during match. The sitting areas are also just for the common individual that wants to enjoy the scenes of the park.  Diverse birds are known to be seen flying around the park, and there are seasonal flowers that bring striking sites all though-out the park.  Along with all the great activities to capture your mind for a period of time, Bryant Park also has over 100 shops set up from time to time, mainly for the Christmas time.  Most of the weekends are filled with people coming in and out of each mini-stores set up around the entire park.  The stores are quite diverse too, they have Christmas decorations, jewelry, metal shops, coffee house, kettle cooked popcorn, and so many others.  It is a great place to spend the afternoon and do some shopping and relaxing at the same time.

The Josephine Shaw Lowell fountain in Bryant Park was devoted to Josephine for her willingness to perform actions of charity and for her dignity to protect the right of women.  She was born into a wealthy family in New England.  She joined and started a lot of charity events for the rights of the poor and unprivileged.  This is important, because it is sometimes hard to find caring people that have money and try to protect those that are poor and do not have the opportunities as people with money.  Strong believer in finding people help to allow them to get a chance at a better lifestyle, setting up certain job opportunities with some and others allowing them to get professional help for unrelated reasons to get them on the right track of being able proceed in life.  What Josephine is best known for is bringing the rights to women; she helped by regulating the work hours of women and assuring them that they will have better work environments and be treated equally and not like a “women.” 
Josephine’s most significant group she began and the most effective was the New York Consumer’s League, this provided women with more restrictions on work hours per week and the wages that the women obtained working.  Women for the most part were always on the short end of the stick, never appreciated and look down upon by all men until Josephine began her groups to support the rights of women during this time period.  This organization was established in 1890, where women had a hard time giving their say about anything because most organizations and businesses were run by men.  In this organization she created a “white list” that had all the stores in New York City that treated women with respect.  After time the list began to grow larger and larger making her efforts a great success.

Beside women’s needs Josephine Lowell structured other organizations as well.  She started the New York Charity Organization Charity which she founded in 1882.  This group was a way to organize certain charity agencies and to participate with each other to get goods for those in need.  It also was to help spread the ideas of charities and how excellent they are to have and how good they make people feel about themselves.  This was a main start of raising money and giving it to the ones that need it a lot more than the people giving donations.  This was an entire turning point in people’s lives because of the charity agencies that are still going strong and people making their best efforts like Lowell to give back to those in need of help.  After this foundation of charities was first structured in New York, it built up and traveled across America and making a country wide organization called National Consumers, this then became a powerful lobbyists group creating great ideas.  This organization helped pass the Fair labor Standards Act that gave the right to a minimum wage, allowing United States citizens to work for a certain wage instead of making workers do work for such little money, next to no pay.

After such an impressive set or years of charity work and trying to make the world a better place, Josephine Lowell was the first women in New York City to have a monument structured for her actions throughout her life.  Lowell was the first women to be honored in the New York Board of charities, serving from 1876 until 1889.  At first, the memorial company of monuments wanted to place Lowell’s fountain in Corlear’s Hook Park in Manhattan’s lower east side because this is where Lowell focused her energy.  Instead the fountain was placed on the east side of Bryant Park, no direct reason why it was placed here but it will be able to be observed by more in Bryant Park and it is a pleasant area for such a fountain.   The fountain has a thirty-two foot base and a thirteen foot vertical from the ground.  The fountain consists of pink stony creek granite and bronze.  Later, in 1932 the fountain was again moved but only to the west side of Bryant Park, this was done because of a reconstruction of the park by the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation.  This allows the entrance from this side of the park to be known as “Fountain Terrance” entrance.

The architect that built the Josephine Shaw Lowell was Charles Adam Platt, born 1861 in Manhattan and passed away in 1933.  Platt was born into a wealthy family and had a lot of relatives into the art subject.  He grew up around art and being creative and he fell in love with art and began his own life creating and making creative ideas for buildings.  Platt was not really known for his architect in building monuments, he is nationally known for his structure of country house designs, landscaping.  He also created landscape painting, commercial architect, and institutional projects.  Platt designed a grand country estate for Edith Rockefeller McCormick at "Villa Turicum" in Lake Forest, Illinois,  the Italianate palazzo he designed for the Smithsonian Institution's Freer Gallery of Art (1918) in Washington, D.C..  He created a lot of the landscape for the University of Illinois too.

Charles Platt was asked to do the Josephine Shaw Lowell fountain by the Parsons architectural corporation in New York.  They were impressed with Platt’s work and hoped he would be willing for the challenge since he is not primary a monument builder.  In 1939, when the Lowell fountain was moved to the west side of Bryant Park the corporation of Bryant Park did not ruin any of the original structure of the fountain but rebuffed and made it look better for appearance reasons with the new technology from when it was originally built.  The Lowell fountain is currently owned by the Bryant Park Cooperation.  It was always owned by the Bryant Park corporation, never was individually owned by anyone at a particular time.  The park is maintained secured by the New York City police or just an assigned security officer for a set amount of time during busy times and set events for Bryant Park.

Documents, Videos, Pictures

  1. Overview of the basic foundation of Bryant Park
  2. One through six photos of Bryant Park including the Josephine Lowell Fountain
  3. Information for Josephine Shaw Lowell Fountain and pictures
  4. New World Encyclopedia, Information of Josephine Shaw Lowell
  5. You tube video of lawn installation of Bryant Park, (Interesting )
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  6. You tube video of skating pond at Bryant Park
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Last Updated on Friday, 10 December 2010 12:19  


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