Public squares are places where urbanites can enjoy the beauty and serenity of nature. Madison Square Park took on its present-day appearance in 1870, when the park was landscaped by Ignatz Amton Pilat and William Grant. Nineteenth century New York City commentators praised the beautiful trees and flowers, which lined the walkways and made the park a destination for the public. Fountains were also part of the plan. In 1880, a fountain was donated to the city and erected at the corner of Madison Avenue and 23rd Street (Berman, 22-25).
Statues in the Park
Statues added to the park’s splendor. Their erection was cause for patriotic celebrations. The statue of William Stewart dates from 1876, when it was placed at the southwest corner of the park, at Broadway and 23rd Street. “The south-western angle of Madison square, where the statue is erected, is suitably inclosed [sic]; a spacious stand, draped with American flags, was there for the accommodation of the speakers and principal guests;…the crowds outside the inclosure [sic] numbered several thousands, and inside, the ample seating accommodation was fully needed” (New York Times, Sept. 28, 1876, p.12). Other statues and monuments which made their home in Madison Square Park included the Farragut Monument (1881), the Roscoe Conkling Statue (1893), and the Chester A. Arthur statue (1898). The young men of the College of the City of New York might walk through the park on their way to school. They would pass these statues after traveling from home on the new elevated railroad on Sixth Avenue, or perhaps sit and study before heading back home. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the neighborhood around the college had matured. Madison Square Park had become a destination for those seeking relaxation and tranquility.