Bethesda Fountain

Rising from the center of Bethesda Terrace is Bethesda Fountain and its crowning glory: the Angel of the Waters sculpture.

At 26 feet high and 96 feet in diameter, this fountain is one of the largest in the City. Created by sculptor Emma Stebbins, it commemorates the 1842 opening of the Croton Aqueduct, which brought fresh water from Westchester County into New York City and ended the cholera epidemic. Angel of the Waters—the City’s first major piece of public art commissioned from a woman—references the gospel of John, which describes an angel blessing the Pool of Bethesda and giving it healing powers. The lily in her left hand represents purity, and the four figures surrounding the pedestal below signify peace, health, purity, and temperance. The angel atop the Fountain was modeled after Stebbins’s partner, the actress Charlotte Cushman.

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