A look at the design, market and legacy of Victorian pottery

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Bethesda Fountain and Terrace

If you ever come to New York City one of the sights you'll want to see as a majolica collector, is the fabulous Bethesda Fountain and Terrace in Central Park.

Built at the very height of majolica manufacture in Great Britain, 1859-1864, the Water Terrace, as it was known, is one of the few great public examples of the use of Minton tile in the United States. The tile ceiling, designed by Jacob Wrey Mould, was installed in the terrace in 1869 and the fountain of Bethesda and the cherubs representing Temperance, Purity, Health and Peace was added in 1873. It was then that the area took on the name of the Bethesda Terrace.

Located in the middle of Central Park, the Terrace is located between the Whitney Museum of Art and the Frick Collection on the East side of the park and the fabulous Dakota on the West side.

The Terrace overlooks the Lake and is built of Brunswick sandstone in a Victorian mix of Romanesque, Gothic and Classical styles. It comprises two levels: the upper Terrace and the lower Terrace. The lower Terrace is where you will find the brilliant 15,000 Minton tiles that cover most of the wall and ceiling surfaces of that underground passageway. Covered in every conceivable kind of tile, including majolica, the Terrace is one of the great wonders of New York City, a city full of wonders. Visit the official Central Park Web site.

We found online a couple of wonderful 360 degree panoramas that allows you to view the underground Terrace as if you were standing right in the center of it. The white arrows link to other panoramas taken within Central Park.
The first shows the Terrace in daylight.

Here is another showing the underground Terrace lit up at dusk.

Now somewhat worn by time, it must have astounded visitors when it was first built. Still today, it is a marvelous place to spend a quiet afternoon.

I feel very lucky to live so close by.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing the Bethesda Terrace with us. I have been to NYC to visit but I have never realized that the terrace was so beautiful. Next visit to the city will include time for seeing this wonderful place!