The Lorelei Fountain

At the corner of Grand Concourse and 161st street, directly across from the Bronx County Courthouse, stands a seven-acre patch of green known as Joyce Kilmer Park. Originally called  Concourse Plaza, in 1926 the park was renamed for Alfred Joyce Kilmer, an American poet who lived in New York City and was killed in action in France during World War I.

The highest point in the park is the setting of the Lorelei Fountain, which is dedicated to the memory of German poet Heinrich Heine and one of his most famous works, Die Lorelei. The poem tells the story of the Lorelai, a legendary siren with a magical voice who lures sailors to their deaths on the Rhine. At the foot of the white marble fountain is a large plaque which says:

The Heinrich Heine Fountain (also called the Lorelei Fountain) honors the German poet and writer (1797-1856) whose poem “Die Lorelei” immortalized the siren of romantic legend. The marble sculptural group depicts Lorelei seated on a rock in the Rhine River among mermaids, dolphins and seashells. The bas relief around the pedestal include a profile  of Heine as a result of a campaign by many German writers and scholars.

The sculptor Ernst Herter (1846 – 1917) was commissioned with the financial assistance  of Empress Elizabeth of Austria, to design the fountain in 1888 for the writer’s home city of Düsseldorf, which declined the monument on aesthetic as well as political grounds. The fountain was purchased by a committee of German-Americans in 1893 and dedicated in what was then known as Grand Concourse Plaza on July 8, 1899. It was moved to the park’s north end in 1940. In 1999 this monument was restored, relocated to its original location and placed in a newly landscaped setting in Joyce Kilmer Park.

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The view from below

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Approaching from the left

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A closer look

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The poet’s face is below the Lorelei

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From the right

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Rear view

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A mermaid reaches for Heine’s laurels

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Birds enjoying the fountain

NYC Department of Parks & Recreation: Joyce Kilmer Park
Forgotten New York
Dialog International: Heinrich Heine Takes New York

4 Responses to The Lorelei Fountain

  1. Olivier says:

    je trouve tres belle cette statue, tout au bout du parc, avec l’escalier devant cela donne de belles photos

    Like

  2. Eliane says:

    Annulla, I remember reading an article about it in the New York Times. There even was a slide show about the Grand Concourse, which I bookmarked for one of my next exploratory expedition.
    You just made me want to visit it a little more.🙂

    Like

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