After a $23G Overhaul, the First Statue of a Woman in a NYC Public Park Is Restored on UWS

The Joan of Arc statue in Riverside Park, which was originally dedicated in 1915, has been restored and thanks to that early unveiling is once again staking its claim as the first statue dedicated to a woman to be erected in a NYC public park.

| 05 Jun 2024 | 01:45

The first statue of a woman in a New York City public park was restored and unveiled on May 18 inside Riverside Park, depicting Jeanne La Pucelle, later known as Joan of Arc.

It resides in Joan of Arc Park, a triangle plaza along Riverside Park on 93rd St.

The statue was originally dedicated in 1915 by artist Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington but has been severely run down over the years from vandalism and environmental wear and tear. Through the joint efforts of the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) and the Joan of Arc Committee, the iconic statue was restored by expert conservator Steve Tatti. The restoration involved an exhaustive process of power washing, heating the bronze of the figure, repainting, and removing graffiti. A total of $22,800 was dedicated to this project, raised largely by the Joan of Arc Committee as well as the MAS Adopt-A-Monument/Mural program, which aims to conserve public art through private funds.

The original Joan of Arc statue was the only one depicting a real woman in a New York public park for almost the entire 20th century. It wasn’t until 1992 that a statue of Gertrude Stein was erected in Bryant Park, bringing the total of female statues in city parks at the time to a staggering two. In 2019, the She-Built NYC initiative sought to commission five public monuments to honor women’s history in each borough, but COVID postponed those plans until July of last year.

Joan of Arc is one of history’s earliest feminists and a symbol of female freedom through her work defending the French nation in the siege of Orléans and preserving France’s independence from England. To honor her legacy, the French national anthem “La Marseillaise” was sung by the PS 84 student choir at the unveiling of the statue. The restoration of this statue is a testament to Joan of Arc’s legacy, as well as a stark reminder that too few statues in the city commemorate women.