Great NYC Statues to See On Your New York City Tour

New York has scores of statues that l have a special appeal. These iconic pieces of art are present everywhere: parks, plazas and other public places and all tell rich and varied stories. You can’t escape the sight of statues standing tall around the city as this is what makes NYC unique in the truest sense of the word. Tourists can visit these famous sculptures and learn a lot about the city, its eventful past and its legendary artists. These creative pieces, ranging in subject, style and size, give a peek into a bygone era and will capture your imagination almost instantly. While in NYC, check out some of these iconic statues and get to know New York better. Here are some of popular statues to see on your New York City tour:

Statue of Liberty

A trip to New York is not complete without a visit to the world renowned Statue of Liberty. Seeing the statue up close and in-person is an essential part of any visit to New York City. Standing at the entrance of New York Harbor since 1886, this towering monument was, in fact, a gift from France to commemorate the centenary of American independence. A visit to the Statue gives you the opportunity to stand next to the one of most renowned ladies in the world!

The Charging Bull

This statue was conceived to celebrate the can-do spirit of New York. Sculptor Arturo Di Modica designed this 7000-pound beast as an antidote to the Wall Street crash of 1986. Interestingly, the creator dropped it off in the front of the New York Stock Exchange without even acquiring the necessary permits. Later, the police impounded it but it was reinstalled by popular demand and since 1989, it’s been charging proudly at Bowling Green.

Atlas Statue

Created by sculptor Lee Lawrie, this popular bronze statue in front of Rockefeller Center depicts the Ancient Greek Titan Atlas holding the heavens. Installed in 1937, the 45-feet tall statue is in the Art Deco style and makes for a perfect family photo-op. Despite some initial protests from the locals, the sculpture has been retained and has been adding splendour to the city ever since.

William Shakespeare

If it had not been for the literary works of William Shakespeare, the world would be a very different place today. His works, though mostly published in the 1600s, still endure and continue to captivate the world. So, it was fitting that his was the first sculpture of a writer to be placed on the Literary Walk in Central Park. Installed in 1872, the bronze statue was created by John Quincy Adams Ward to commemorate the 300th birth anniversary of the legendary bard from England.

The Library Lions

What would you make of lions guarding a library? It symbolizes the power of knowledge and wisdom and depicts the authority of those who seek both these virtues. Maybe, this was what led to the creation of these iconic statues. Named Patience and Fortitude, this world-renowned pair of marble lions showcase to the world the true spirit of New Yorkers. In fact, they have featured in numerous children's books and they still lure tourists into getting a picture clicked. So, plan accordingly and don’t miss out on those symbolic lions on your NYC tour.


A trip to New York would be incomplete without a visit to the most photographed monument in the city: Prometheus. Created by American sculptor Paul Manship, it’s considered the most popular sculpture in Rockefeller Center. A major attraction of the Lower Plaza, the statue is a symbol of progress and civilization. The statue regularly features in concerts and events and remains a key attraction for tourists here.

James Gordon Bennett Memorial

Herald Square receives tens of thousands of visitors everyday and in the middle of the square is a monument which marks the location of what was once the city’s largest newspaper, The New York Herald. On top of the monument, unnoticed by the passerby below, are two bronze owls whose eyes light up a spooky glowing green, off and on, all through the night. The Herald ran from 1835 until 1924 under the ownership of James Gordon Bennett and was America’s highest circulating paper. Bennett was obsessed with owls, and 26 owls sat atop the Herald Building. When the building was demolished in 1940, the statue of Minerva, the clock and some of the owls were rescued and incorporated into the monument you see today. The owls which stood as sentinels over his newspaper building still watch over visitors to Herald Square, their green eyes glowing just as they did over 100 years ago.

The Statue of Shinran Shonin

The statue of Shinran Shonin is perhaps one of the rare ways to revisit the scars of the America’s Hiroshima atomic bombing of 1945. The statue is right at the front of the New York Buddhist Church and it was shipped off here by a Japanese man. The bombing, which killed some 150,000 people, could not dent the spirit of this iconic statue. The blistered statue is reminder of what survived and what could not on that fateful day. If history catches your attention, then this statue should be on the list on visit for sure.

Fifteen feet tall and made of bronze, this statue of Buddhist teacher Shinran Shonin shows him wearing a big peasant hat and holding a wood staff. There are many, similar statues of Shonin around the world, but this one stood only 1.5 miles from the center of the nuclear blast that leveled Hiroshima in 1945. It's survival -- unscathed, from all appearances -- was regarded as miraculous at the time. Ten years later a Japanese industrialist shipped it to New York, where it was erected outside of a Buddhist temple on Manhattan's Upper West Side where it resides today. According to its plaque, the bombproof Buddhist serves as "a testimonial to the atomic bomb devastation and a symbol of lasting hope for world peace.”

Union Square Drinking Fountain

Clean and clear drinking water was a problem back then in the 19th century. Philanthropist Daniel Willis James wanted to promote public health as well as the virtue of charity. This led to the creation of this iconic Union Square Drinking Fountain or James Fountain. This bronze sculpture on the west side of Union Square Park was installed in 1881.

These statues are the heart and soul of New York City and you shouldn’t be missed on your visit.

This is a contribution from one of our contributing writers. Photo Credits: William Warby under Wikipedia Commons.


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