Flowers for Water at Long-Neglected Schiff Fountain

Posted on: May 26th, 2022 at 5:04 am by

Photo: Roger Bultot

A decrepit Lower East Side relic in Seward Park is born again colorful.

Until last week, the Schiff Fountain on the Essex Street perimeter of the park – stripped of its grandeur and weathering in public view – had mainly functioned as harbor for illicit activity. A favored spot for drinkers, junkies, and drifters. But now it’s sporting plant life.

The Seward Park Conservancy – the organization behind safeguarding the park – arranged for the planting of annuals in the empty fountain. Filled to the brim with soil, both in the base and crown.

This is the most beautification the ornamental icon has seen in decades. Actually turning it back on is another story, though.

Sculpted by artist Arnold Brunner, the neighborhood water feature was a collaborative effort with financier Jacob Schiff. The duo had already worked together to develop the Educational Alliance in 1891. Four years later, they collaborated on the fountain, which was installed in the so-called crossroads called Rutgers Square (modern day Straus Square). It moved to the current spot in 1936.

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