In 1936, the philanthropist August Heckscher donated the fountain to Central Park as a memorial to the American journalist and social-welfare advocate Sophie Irene Loeb (1876–1929). Heckscher and Loeb had campaigned together for the addition of children’s playgrounds to the Park.
Originally the carved granite fountain was installed near the entrance to Heckscher Playground, the Park’s first playground, where it provided fresh drinking water for children. In 1986, it was moved to the James Michael Levin Playground and adapted by the Central Park Conservancy into a water play feature.
The American artist Frederick Roth created the fountain. Roth was the head sculptor for the Parks Department from 1934 to 1936 and is the most represented artist in the Park. His other sculptures include the popular memorial to Balto, Honey Bear and Dancing Goat at the Zoo, and Mother Goose at Rumsey Playfield.
The Sophie Loeb Fountain is one of several monuments in the Park dedicated to historic women, including the Burnett Fountain and the monument to Women’s Rights Pioneers. While the figure of Loeb is not directly represented, the form and function of the fountain honor her legacy as an advocate for children and families.