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"Hidden History: Women in Central Park" tour shines spotlight on the women behind some iconic New York City landmarks

Central Park Conservancy brings back women's history tour
Central Park Conservancy brings back women's history tour 02:16

NEW YORK -- In recognition of Women's History Month, Central Park Conservancy is bringing back its tour "Hidden History: Women in Central Park," and CBS2 got a peek at what's included.

CBS2's Vanessa Murdock and Carla Shotwell, a tour guide with the Central Park Conservancy, visited three of 10 stops on the Hidden History Tour.

"I think many folks would be surprised as to how many really famous, iconic spots in the park are thanks to women," Shotwell said.  

READ MORE: International Women's Day marked in New York City

The first one, world-renowned Bethesda Fountain, was dry for the moment.

"Bethesda Fountain is absolutely one of the most famous spots in Central Park," Shotwell said.

Shotwell shared that the Angel of the Waters statue, located in the fountain, remains the only sculpture commissioned as part of Central Park's original design. 

"The artist for this work is a woman named Emma Stebbins, and she was the first woman to be awarded a public art commission in New York City," Shotwell explained.

It is believed the face resembles that of Stebbins' long-time lover and partner, stage actress Charlotte Cushman.

Dedicated in 1873, the 150th anniversary of the Bethesda Fountain fast approaches. 

The next stop was the Women's Rights Pioneers monument, which depicts women and was sculpted by a woman, Meredith Bergmann.

"This was installed in 2020 on the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women, but not all women, the right to vote," Shotwell said.

READ MORE: Statue Honoring Women At Forefront Of Suffrage Movement Unveiled In Central Park

Sculpted in bronze is Sojourner Truth, an abolitionist and women's rights advocate  

"Sojourner Truth was born into slavery in New York, and she escaped just prior to it being abolished in 1827," Shotwell said.

Standing beside her is Susan B. Anthony, leader of the women's suffrage movement. Across the table is Elizabeth Cady Stanton. 

"She wrote the Declaration of Sentiments, in which she said all men and women are created equal," Shotwell said.

For the final stop, Murdock and Shotwell climbed some of Central Park's bedrock to overlook Wollman Rink, which exists thanks to Philanthropist Kate Wollman.

"In 1949, she donated $600,000 to New York City to create a memorial to honor her parents and her four brothers," Shotwell said.

The Wollman Memorial Recreation Center opened to the public in 1950. More than seven decades later, it remains a Central Park destination. 

The influence of women in Central Park is richer than most know. There are a few other Central Park hotspots we have to thank women philanthropists for: Lasker Rink, Kerbs Boathouse and Strawberry Fields. 

For more information on the "Hidden History: Women in Central Park" tour, click here.

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