overview

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history.

The Gertrude Stein Monument, in Manhattan’s Bryant Park, honors an LGBT individual.

Header Photo
Courtesy of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation.

History

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history. The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project compiled a list of 13 public parks and playgrounds named after gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals, several of which intentionally honor an LGBT individual. This list includes the Gertrude Stein Monument, in Manhattan.

This monument, dedicated in 1992, in Bryant Park honors the pioneering expatriate American author and art collector Gertrude Stein (1874–1946), one of the world’s most famous lesbians. It was the first statue of an American woman placed in a public park in New York City. Born in Pittsburgh, Stein moved to Paris in 1903 and lived in France for the rest of her life. She met Alice B. Toklas (1877-1967) in 1907, and they lived together as partners after 1910. They famously hosted a salon in Paris that was attended by the leading modernist figures of art and literature. Stein amassed a significant contemporary art collection. Stein’s literary canon included poems, novels, plays, librettos, lectures, essays, biographies, and film scripts. In 1933, she published The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, a memoir of her Paris years written in her partner’s voice. It became a bestseller, and elevated her into mainstream fame. She also wrote the libretto for the opera Four Saints in Three Acts (1934), with music by Virgil Thomson. Early unconventional Stein works that included lesbian relationships were Q.E.D. (1903), Fernhurst (1904), and Tender Buttons (1914).

Stein posed for sculptor Jo Davidson at his Paris studio, and he completed the model depicting a Buddha-like Stein in 1922. Stein was delighted by the portrayal. This particular bronze casting of the statue, located near the New York Public Library, is the eighth in a series of ten. It was the gift of Dr. Maury Leibowitz, vice-chairman/president of Knoedler-Modarco Galleries.

Sources

  1. “Gertrude Stein Monument,” NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, on.nyc.gov/3o0oADs.

Other Sites in the Neighborhood

80 West 40th Street
J.C. Leyendecker Studio at Bryant Park Studios
Residences
220-228 West 48th Street
Longacre Theater
Performance Venues
1634 Broadway
Winter Garden Theater
Performance Venues