The bench was donated by the Andrew Haswell Green Memorial Association, which formed in 1904 to raise funds for a memorial to the man often called the “Father of Greater New York.” A site in Central Park was deemed fitting because of his essential role in its creation and operation. Green was instrumental in the selection of the original design for the Park and served as president and controller of the Park’s Board of Commissioners, its first managers. Green was also involved in the establishment of many of the City’s cultural institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History.
The Memorial Association made several proposals for memorials, including two located at entrances to Central Park: one at the southern part of the Park at Eighth Avenue where the Maine Monument now stands and another at 110th Street and Seventh Avenue (now Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard). The proposal for the northern entrance included a fountain, columns topped with eagles, and a bronze statue. During a period of numerous proposals for additions to the Park, these were generally considered too elaborate. In 1929, the association proposed a more modest design consisting of a bench and five elm trees, symbols of Green’s role in the consolidation of the five boroughs. This proposal was accepted and added to the northern section of the Park, in the area known as the Mount. The elm trees eventually succumbed to Dutch elm disease and in the 1980s the bench was moved to its current site in order to make room for the Park’s composting operation. In 1998, the centennial of the consolidation of New York, five maple trees were planted by the bench.
Benches for contemplating the landscape were a popular form of memorial for Park commissioners. There are two others. The Waldo Hutchins Bench overlooks Conservatory Water and the Charles B. Stover Bench is in Shakespeare Garden.
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Find serenity in the north end of the Park as you pass by wide, bucolic meadows.
Tags: History / Art & Architecture