If you know the history of the Bronx, its proclivity towards monumental urban planning and Beaux-Arts architecture has its roots in the City Beautiful movement. Overshadowed by blight and urban decay for much of the latter 20th century, the Bronx has a witnessed a resurgence of interest in is architectural heritage over the past decade. The Grand Concourse was designated a historic district by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2011 following an $18 million restoration that took place in 2008. In the City Beautiful movement, sculpture accompanied architecture side-by-side as an allegorical means to convey civic virtue.
Here we have rounded up five notable sculptures in the Bronx. Some are from the City Beautiful era, others that took a cue from its legacy.
1. Fountain of Life
The New York Botanical Garden ‘s original 1897 plans called for a fountain to be constructed in front of the Museum Building. The Botanical Garden held a design competition for the fountain but was unsatisfied with any of the submissions. In 1903, a new competition was held (and judged by the sculptors including Daniel Chester French and John Quincy Adams Ward) which Carl (Charles) E. Tefft won. The sculptor entitled his work “the Fountain of Life, typifying the great life principle of ‘Struggle for Existence’ and ‘Survival of the Fittest.'”