After reading about the construction of Shakespeare memorials in England and Germany, a group of prominent New Yorkers decided to form a Shakespeare monument committee to advocate for one in the City. The group included the actor Edwin Booth and the playwright and theater director Augustin Daly, both instrumental in promoting and popularizing Shakespeare’s works in America.
The cornerstone for the monument was laid in the Park in 1864, the 300th anniversary of the Bard’s birth, but the Civil War delayed the effort to complete the monument for several years. The renowned sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward created the likeness of Shakespeare based on three contemporary portraits. The monument was dedicated on May 23, 1872. Ward has several other notable sculptures in the Park, including Indian Hunter, The Pilgrim, and the Seventh Regiment Memorial.
Unlike some of the other historical figures monumentalized in the Park, Shakespeare is still widely known, and has an even larger presence in Central Park. Park visitors can see a Shakespeare play at the Delacorte Theater during the summer or stroll through Shakespeare Garden, which features plants mentioned in his work.