Female Suffragettes Memorial Will Mark Central Park's First Statues of Women In History
There are 29 statues in New York City's Central Park. After strolling around the park, you may notice something unusual about the sculptures of girls and women: Each one, from William Shakespeare's Juliet to Lewis Carroll's Alice, depicts a person who didn't really exist. That won't be the case for much longer. As Quartz reports, the The Statue Fund will be the first to chip away at this gender imbalance when the city installs its monument to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Sojourner Truth in 2020.
The nonprofit group began campaigning for the addition of a female suffragette statue to Central Park more than six years ago. The members had to navigate legal obstacles and raise more that $1.5 million in donations, but their work paid off. On October 21, a commission of the New York City council announced that the statue of the three women would become a permanent part of the park in August 2020—which is also the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. The original design only featured suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, but following accusations of whitewashing, it was changed to include African American abolitionist and women's rights activist Sojourner Truth. Artist Meredith Bergman has been hired to sculpt the final statue.
Central Park is home to 23 statues of real men (and one real dog), but there are no sculptures of important women from history. This is a trend that can be seen across the country. Unless they're representing a fictional character or acting as a metaphor for some abstract concept, statues of female figures rarely appear in public spaces. It's estimated that there are fewer than 400 of them nationwide.
Activists are working to boost those numbers. This year, Virginia unveiled a monument consisting of 12 historic women, and in 2020, construction will begin of a statue of journalist Nellie Bly on New York City's Roosevelt Island.