10. The Joan of Arc Memorial was the first statue of a non-fictional woman — and by a woman — in NYC

Joan of Arc equestrian statue

The Joan of Arc Memorial in Riverside Park was the first statue in New York of a non-fictional woman, as well as the first public sculpture created by a woman. The bronze equestrian sculpture on 93rd Street was designed by Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington, who received the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French government for her work. The statue was commissioned to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Joan of Arc’s birth, and it was dedicated on December 6, 1915, in a ceremony presided over by the French Ambassador and Mrs. Thomas Alva Edison. Huntington emphasized “the spiritual rather than the warlike point of view” in creating the memorial.

For Joan’s armor, Huntington did research at the arms and armory division of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her horse design was based off one borrowed from the fire department of her native town of Gloucester, Massachusetts. And to depict Joan on horseback, her niece posed atop a barrel, first nude then in costume. The pedestal incorporates a World War One shell-shattered pilaster from Reims Cathedral, as well as sections of the walls of the prison where Joan of Arc was held in Rouen.

Next, check out the Top 10 Secrets of Riverside Park and the Top 10 Secrets of Morningside Heights!