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Alice in Wonderland in Central Park

About this listing

Statue commissioned as a gift to the children of New York City

Place Details

Borough : Manhattan
Neighborhood : Central Park
Public Art, Recreation, Gathering Place

Place Matters Profile

Written by Mayra Mahmood

Hidden away in the southeastern quarter of Central Park you will find a statue dedicated to one of the great heroes of childrens literature -- Alice in Wonderland. Erected in 1959 as a gift to the children of the city, the scale and design of the structure encourages children to crawl, climb, and find space for respite and imagination, within the art itself.

After his first wife, Margarita, died in 1959, millionaire George Delacorte (1894-1991) commissioned the Spanish sculptor, Jose de Creeft (1884-1982), to design a statue of Alice in Wonderland as a gift to the children of New York. The subject was obvious to him: Margarita’s favorite author was Lewis Carroll, and she’d read his book, “Alice in Wonderland,” to the couple’s children. To create the piece, de Creeft worked closely with landscape architect Hideo Sasaki and designer Fernando Texidor, while the Modern Art Foundry...

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"Alice in Wonderland in Central Park." General CentralParkcom. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.

"Alice in Wonderland." - The Official Website of Central Park NYC. Central Park Conservatory, n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.

"Central Park." Monuments. NYC Parks Department, n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.

"Detail of Jose De Creefts Sculpture Alice in Wonderland in Central Park, 1959?" Detail of Jose De Creefts Sculpture Alice in Wonderland in Central Park, from the José De Creeft Papers. Archive of American Art, n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.

"Central Park Conservatory Pond, Alice in Wonderland & Area by Hubert Steed." PBase. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.

Zega, Andrew, and Bernd H. Dams. Central Park NYC: An Architectural View. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Central Park Conservancy. Plan for Play: A Framework for Rebuilding and Managing Central Park Playgrounds. New York, NY: n.p., 2012. Print.

Lefaivre, Liane, Ingeborg De Roode, and Rudi Fuchs. Aldo Van Eyck: The Playgrounds and the City. Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum, 2002. Print.

Rosenzweig, Roy, and Elizabeth Blackmar. The Park and the People: A History of Central Park. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1992. Print

Solomon, Susan G. American Playgrounds: Revitalizing Community Space. Hanover: U of New England, 2005. Print.

Tate, Alan. Great City Parks. London: Spon, 2004. Print. (CCNY LIBRARY CALL NUMBER: SB484.E8 T37 2004)


Mayra Mahmood

Nominated through Dr. Marta Gutmans Children and the City course, Spitzer School of Architecture, City College, New Yok 2016

Living in New York City can get stressful at times. When I first moved here from Pakistan, it was hard to cope with the fast paced rhythm that the city moves in. There are times when it all becomes too much and an escape is needed. The Alice in Wonderland Statue has become my site of escape. This place has the ability to slow down time to let me wonder. It becomes my place for rest and shelter from the busy and noisy city. The trees encase and hide the sculpture from passing visitors while also blocking the noise from 5th Avenue. The height of the non-monumental structure (H: 97") makes it possible for me to climb up to the top of it and lie down there. The characters remind me of my childhood and home. When I was younger, Alice in Wonderland was my favorite movie to watch with my family. It was like having a piece of home with me in New York City. Like George Delacorte, the benefactor who came up the idea for the statue and paid for it, I like to watch the children play. They make me smile.

The statue becomes a playground by providing as a site for play. Children become the masters of play. Can a playground be a site-specific piece of art? I think yes! Children give a program to the stationary bronze structure. The statue becomes a site of liberation and freedom for children and teenagers to imagine their own wonderland and rekindle memories of their own children.

The Alice in Wonderland sculpture in my opinion is a great example of a place children appropriate for themselves. Although it is still a statue, it is able to be a playground and a site for fun. It becomes a site of interest for trans-generational groups as they share their experience and imagination while engaging with the structure. This is why my place matters. (May 2016)

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