Central Park (Finally) Builds Its First Real Female Statue

Central Park (Finally) Builds Its First Real Female Statue

By Paulina Cachero

Jul 20, 2018

For those keeping score in Central Park, it's currently male statues: 23, female statues: 0

And no, Alice in Wonderland does not count.

But after 164 years, those numbers are finally changing. The Monumental Women Statue Fund and New York City Parks Commission announced that they are installing Central Park's first-ever monument in honor of real women—a bronze statue of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony who led the fight for women's right to vote. The final design created by sculptor Meredith Bergmann was revealed on July 19, the 170th Anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention, the first ever women's rights conference. (And it certainly wouldn't be the last. Just check out the 2018 MAKERS Conference.)

"We are so delighted to be able to say that we are breaking the bronze ceiling in Central Park," said Pam Elam, President of the Statue Fund. "And, yes, this does represent monumental change."

With a record number of women running for office in 2018 and with women's rights dominating the national conversation, this landmark couldn't be more timely.

"The suffragists at the time might have thought that their daughters' daughters' daughters would live in a world free from prejudice and discrimination," said Elam. "Yet, as we know the fight against misogyny never ends and the battle for equality goes on."

The initiative was spearheaded by the Monumental Women Statue Fund, a bold band of women which includes New York City's first firefighter Brenda Berkman, President of the Statue Fund Pam Elam, Elizabeth Cady Stanton's great, great granddaughter Coline Jenkins (and Vice President of the Statue Fund), and a couple of Girls Scout Troops across New York City who donated their cooking earnings to the cause.

Monumental Women held a design competition and received 91 submissions from across the country. Bergmann, who also designed the Boston Women's Memorial and busts of MAKER Ruth Bader Ginsburg for Columbia University, rose above the rest with her piece which depicts a moment between Anthony and Stanton in what Bergmann calls a "thrilling collaborative creation."

"You see these women at work and you see the work itself and its effect on the world we live in," said Bergmann. "The right to vote— to have the privilege to participate in our democracy, the right to be counted as a full citizen in these United States is very much on our mind these days."

On August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment passed giving white women the right to vote. In 1952, Asians were allowed to go to the polls and in 1965, black women could enter voting booths.

The final monument will be unveiled in Central Park in 2020— just in time for the next presidential election. In addition to constructing the first female statue, the Statue Fund will be partnering with the New York Historical Society and Center for Women's History to create an educational series and additional programs about women's suffrage.

Suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton's great, great granddaughter Coline Jenkins is thrilled to see her family legacy honored. Says Jenkins: "It's made of bronze and is going to last hundreds of years as an inspiration to men and women to get out and vote."

To register to vote, go to www.usvotefoundation.org for more information.

National Voter Registration Day (a.k.a. the last day you can register to vote) is August 16.

Election Day is November 6.

**A previous version of the story used the term "suffragettes" in reference to the women who fought for women's right to vote. It has since been corrected.

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