Alice in Wonderland has been a fixture of Central Park’s storybook landscape since 1959. Observant historians may notice that the host is a caricature of philanthropist George Delacorte, who donated the statue as a gift to the children of New York City. Delacorte commissioned this statue as a tribute to his late wife, Margarita, who often read Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to their children.
The piece—created by Spanish-born American sculptor (and friend of Picasso) José de Creeft—features Alice perched high on a giant mushroom, surrounded by friends and woodland creatures. To her left, the Mad Hatter oversees the festivities; to her right, the White Rabbit checks his pocket watch, and a tiny dormouse nibbles a treat at her feet. Engraved around the base of the statue are lines from Carroll’s nonsensical (but nonetheless beloved) poem, “The Jabberwocky.” Alice in Wonderland’s many nooks and crannies make it an ideal play space; over the years, patches of its surface have been polished smooth by little hands.