Bethesda Fountain

Bethesda Fountain, an iconic centerpiece of Central Park in New York City, is a testament to the artistic and cultural richness of the metropolis. Completed in 1873, it is the focal point of Bethesda Terrace, a space created by the celebrated landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. The heart of the fountain is the bronze sculpture "Angel of the Waters," an exceptional work by Emma Stebbins, the first woman to receive a public art commission in New York.

The Angel, holding a lily in one hand and with the other hand outstretched, signifies purity and healing, a nod to the biblical story of the angel blessing the waters at the Pool of Bethesda, thereby imbuing them with healing properties. This exquisite statue rests atop the fountain, surrounded by four smaller cherubs representing health, purity, temperance, and peace.

Lying at the end of the beautiful Mall promenade, Bethesda Fountain and the surrounding terrace offer a tranquil space amidst the park's greenery. Overlooking the Lake, the spot presents a picturesque scene, making it a favorite among photographers and film enthusiasts alike. Bethesda Terrace, adjacent to the fountain, boasts intricately carved designs and a magnificent tiled ceiling, representing the four seasons and times of the day.

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Why should you go?

A visit to Bethesda Fountain offers more than just a sightseeing experience. It's a journey into the artistic and historical heart of New York City. The majestic Angel of the Waters statue not only represents a significant milestone in women's contribution to public art but also offers an engaging tale of healing and hope.

The fountain is the perfect spot to unwind after exploring the wonders of Central Park. The tranquility it offers amid the city's bustling environment is unmatched. Its serene setting is a favorite among locals and tourists, making it an excellent spot for picnics, reading, or simply soaking in the park's vibrant atmosphere.

For photography enthusiasts and film buffs, the fountain is a gold mine. Its regular features in movies and TV shows have made it a pop-culture icon. Capturing the fountain, the Angel, and the surrounding architectural grandeur will certainly make for memorable photos.

Moreover, the Bethesda Fountain area regularly hosts street performances, adding an element of unexpected entertainment to your visit. From musicians to dancers, you might stumble upon a variety of artistic expressions that make your experience even more enjoyable.

In essence, visiting Bethesda Fountain is about immersing yourself in the cultural fabric of New York City. It offers a blend of art, history, leisure, and natural beauty — a concoction that guarantees an unforgettable experience in the city that never sleeps.

How to get there

You can reach Bethesda Fountain easily by various means of transportation. If you're taking the subway, you can get off at the 72nd Street station. From there, it's just a short walk along Terrace Drive to reach Bethesda Terrace and Fountain.

Alternatively, you can take a bus — M10, M20, or M72 are excellent options — and disembark near Central Park. From there, navigate to the heart of the park using the clearly marked signs or simply follow the friendly crowds.

If you prefer driving, there's street parking available around Central Park, but be prepared for typical city parking challenges. A more relaxing option might be a leisurely bike ride into the park.

Best places to visit near Bethesda Fountain

  • Central Park Mall. Take a leisurely stroll along the iconic promenade lined with American elms, known as the "Literary Walk." It's a beautiful spot to relax and enjoy the park's atmosphere.

  • The Lake. Located just north of Bethesda Fountain, the Lake offers picturesque views and the opportunity to rent a rowboat or gondola for a romantic ride on the water.

  • Strawberry Fields. Pay tribute to John Lennon at this tranquil memorial, located just a short walk from Bethesda Fountain. This landmark is dedicated to the iconic Beatles musician and features the famous "Imagine" mosaic.

  • The Ramble. A serene woodland area located north of Bethesda Fountain and the Lake, the Ramble offers winding paths, beautiful foliage, and a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city within Central Park.

  • Belvedere Castle. Head to the northern part of the park to visit Belvedere Castle, a stunning architectural gem that offers panoramic views of the park and city skyline from its rooftop.

  • Conservatory Water. A short walk from Bethesda Fountain, Conservatory Water is a scenic pond where visitors can sail model boats or relax on the surrounding benches and enjoy the view.

  • The Great Lawn. Located northeast of Bethesda Fountain, the Great Lawn is a vast open space perfect for picnics, sunbathing, and playing outdoor games like frisbee or soccer.

  • Shakespeare Garden. About a 10-minute walk from the fountain, the charming garden is filled with plants and flowers mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare. It's a peaceful spot to take a stroll and enjoy the fragrance of the blooms.

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art. Located on the park's eastern edge, the Met is a world-renowned museum that houses a vast collection of art spanning various cultures and time periods.
  • 1
    What is the best time of year to visit Bethesda Fountain?
    Bethesda Fountain is accessible and beautiful year-round. However, it does not operate during the cold months and can sometimes be turned off even in summer due to weather or drought restrictions.

    Spring and fall are particularly enchanting times to visit when the surrounding trees burst into a riot of colors. During summer, the fountain is a welcome sight for those seeking respite from the city heat.

    It's operational from 6 am until 1 am, allowing for a variety of experiences, from tranquil morning moments to captivating twilight scenes.
  • 2
    What are the most interesting and unique facts about Bethesda Fountain?
    • The fountain is named after the Bethesda Pool in Jerusalem, a biblical site where a disabled man was healed according to the Bible (John 5:2-9). The word Bethesda itself is derived from the Hebrew and means “house of mercy” or “house of grace.”

    • Bethesda Fountain has been featured in many films, TV shows, and books. This landmark has had numerous cultural moments, from "Angels in America" and "The Avengers" to "Doctor Who" and "Gossip Girl."

    • The fountain is approximately 26 feet high and 96 feet in diameter. It's one of the largest fountains in New York, making it a central feature in the park.