Children naturally love Central Park. Today there are places to swing, swim, skate, and lots of grass for running and rolling. The park wasn’t designed with children in mind, though; still, children of the 19th century found fun in climbing the parks many rocky hills and outcroppings.
During the 20th century, child-friendly features like playgrounds and ballfields were added to the park. Additionally, many of the statues that have been added to the park over the years have been commissioned with children in mind, from brave Balto the sled-dog to the dancing animal clock in the Central Park Zoo. But no feature is more beloved than Alice in Wonderland.
The classic Lewis Carroll tale Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has been delighting children and their parents for 150 years. One of those parents was Margarita Delacorte, the wife of wealthy New York publisher, George T. Delacorte. George donated money for statues, fountains, and theaters all over the city, and he usually made sure his name was attached to them–Central Park’s outdoor amphitheater is named for him, for instance.
When Margarita died, Delacorte decided to create a memorial for her, a place where her favorite story–Alice in Wonderland, of course–could come to life. He commissioned an Alice in Wonderland Central Park visitors could not just see, but touch and climb as well. The sculptor Jose de Creeft took the story’s original illustrations and recreated Alice, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Dormouse, and the Cheshire Cat–all perched on a giant mushroom at the mad tea party. All around the base of the statue are lines from Carroll’s poem Jabberwocky, as well as an inscription for Margarita.
The 11-foot statue makes a great playground and kids of all ages perch on the mushroom and crawl in the folds of Alice’s dress. You can even see where the patina has been rubbed smooth by thousands of tiny hands and feet. In fact, the Central Park Conservancy has to spend $10,000 every year to maintain the statue.
The Alice in Wonderland Central Park statue is located on the east side of the park, just north of the conservatory water at 75th Street. So, bring the kids–or the kid inside you–and spend some time in Wonderland.