ASPCA Horse Trough
The ASPCA began operation on April 10, 1866 and its official seal, commissioned by Henry Bergh, depicts, "A fallen cart horse protected from a cruel driver by a winged guardian. In her left hand she carries the sword of justice, lest the driver ignore her appeal for mercy." These granite horse troughs are among the ten that were installed in the city by the ASPCA in the late 19th and early 20th century at a time when it was common for horses to collapse and die from dehydration and heat exhaustion in the summer. (reference)
Although most of the city's horse troughs have been demolished or repurposed (including one used as a flower planter in Flushing), the presence of carriage horses in Central Park provided a reason to preserve two troughs: one in Grand Army Plaza (59th st at Fifth Avenue) and one just inside the Sixth Avenue entrance to the park from 59th Street.
The Grand Army Plaza fountain was donated in 1912 by Edith Bowdoin, the daughter and heir of George S. Bowdoin, who was a partner with the banking firm of J.P. Morgan and himself a notable NYC philanthropist. George Bowdoin had a large house on Park Avenue near 36th Street and purchased a stable at 149 East 38th Street in 1907, which was retained by Edith Bowdoin until 1944. (reference). The fountain had been sitting in front of the ASPCA offices on 92nd Street as a planter until being restored and rededicated at this location in 2001. Unfortunately, when I visited in the Spring of 2008, the plumbing fixtures were inoperative, requiring that water be brought in via bucket and leaving the backwash a bit fetid. (reference)
Mrs. Henry C. Russell, who donated the Sixth Avenue fountain in 1908 is a more enigmatic figure and I have been unable to find any information about her or her husband on the web.
Next: Autumn, 2008