The Lorelei Fountain contains 3 mermaids, and is located in Joyce Kilmer Park’s Grand Concourse in The Bronx. It was created in the 1890s by the German sculptor Ernst Herter.
The sculpture is a memorial to German poet and writer Heinrich Heine, and the sculpture is also known as the Heinrich Heine Fountain.
Heinrich composed the poem ‘Die Lorelei’, which immortalized the romantic German legend of Lorelei, a maiden who was transformed into a siren after throwing herself into the river. Lorelei could be heard singing from a rock along the river, her alluring voice distracting sailors, resulting in their death.
This fountain is carved out of white marble, and depicts Lorelei seated on a rock in the Rhine River among mermaids, dolphins, and seashells.
It was commissioned originally for the German city of Düsseldorf, but when the city declined the sculpture it was brought to New York in 1899.
The sculpture was controversial from the beginning – both in Germany and in New York – fueled both by the nudity and by anti-semitism (Heine was born Jewish). It has been vandalized and restored a number of times, with the latest restoration in 1999 also placing it here in the Joyce Kilmer Park, three blocks from its original location.
You can find all the details and many more photos on our Heinrich Heine Fountain page.