Pulitzer Fountain, 1914-1916

Architect: Thomas Hastings; Sculpture: Karl Bitter.

Plaza at Fifth Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets.

Pulitzer Fountain is a wide structure, with water basins climbing six levels, and a bronze sculpture on top. In the summer, water spouts from the mouths of carved heads into the uppermost basin, which stands high above the rest. The water then flows from level to level over the edges of the basins and through open spouts, some simple, and some large and elaborate.

The sculpture at the top is a figure of Pamona, the goddess of abundance [1]. She is mostly nude, except for a cloth draped across one leg. Her body position suggests movement, as her arms reach across her body, holding a large bowl of fruit. The twist of her body, along with the way in which her left leg steps forward and her eyes gaze towards the right, imply that she is in the process of turning.

The Pulitzer Fountain and the plaza on which it stands were created with the ideals of the City Beautiful movement in mind [2]. Both architect and sculptor were interested in creating a cohesive space at the southeast corner of Central Park, taking into account the sculpture of General William Tecumseh Sherman, which was already located on the adjacent plaza between 59th and 60th Streets.

Bitter had actually been interested in the development of this particular space for years before the project was even proposed [3]. Then when the project was proposed, he was initially against the plan, arguing that the money allocated for the fountain (donated by publishing giant Joseph Pulitzer) was not enough to include the deign and construction of a well-integrated plaza as well. The final arrangement had the city paying for the creation of the plaza, while Pulitzer's donation covered the cost of the Fountain [4].

In the spring of 1915, before the project was complete, Bitter was hit by a car and died. Although he had completed an initial model for his sculpture, he had never seen his work on location with the fountain [5]. After Bitter's death, the sculpture was enlarged, with minor adjustments made by artists Karl Gruppe and Isidore Konti [6].

Possible discussion themes
How does Pulitzer Fountain fit into the space at the Southeast corner of Central Park?
Looking at the space defined by the two plazas between 58th and 60th Streets at Fifth Avenue, how do the elements of the design relate to each other? Does the space seem complete? If not, what else might be needed? Do the two sculptures complement each other?

Related art works
General William Tecumseh Sherman.
This sculpture was placed at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue in 1903. When Hastings and Bitter began to design the Pulitzer Fountain and the plaza around it, they thought about the integration of the entire space. They even had General Sherman moved slightly to accommodate a cohesive design.


  1. Bogart, M. (1989). Public sculpture and the civic ideal in New York City, 1890-1930. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 186; Sharp, L & Kiehl, D. W. (1974). New York City public sculpture by 19th-century American artists. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art. p. 53.
  2. Bogart, p. 191.
  3. Sharp & Kiehl, p. 53.
  4. Sharp & Kiehl, p. 53.
  5. Schevill, Ferdinand. (1917). Karl Bitter: A biography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 66.
  6. Sharp & Kiehl, p. 53.

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