Built 1859 - 1863 by Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould
Stone arch vehicle bridge (sandstone and granite)
Carries the 72nd Street Cross Drive over Bethesda Terrace at the north end of The Mall
This pedestrian arcade under the 72nd Street Cross Drive is part of the larger Bethesda Terrace, which is similar in design to the the Orangerie at the Palace of Versailles in Paris. The arcade ceiling features tiles by the Minton Company of Stoke-on-Trent, England. The stone carvings on the bridge depict nature and farm scenes, recalling an era in NYC history that is long past.
Bethesda Fountain sits in the center of the Terrace, crowned by the iconic sculpture Angel of the Waters (1873) by Emma Stebbins (1815-1882), a noted sculptor whose brother Henry G. Stebbins (1823-1881) was a park commissioner. The $63,000 work was the only statue out of Vaux and Mould's original 1862 proposal for 26 statues of famous Americans. The terrace's name and the sculpture reference the ancient Bethesda healing pool in Jerusalem, mentioned in the Bible's fifth chapter of John as the site of one of Jesus' healing miracles. This reference also symbolizes the health benefits of fresh water brought to the city by the completion of the Croton Aqueduct in 1842. The cherubim on the shaft supporting the lower fountain represent Temperance, Purity, Health, and Peace.
A 1983 restoration of the terrace revealed structural damage that necessitated removal and storage of the Minton tiles. Two panels of tiles were restored in 1997 as a test project and a complete restoration was initiated in 2006.
Next: Billy Johnson Playground Bridge