UPPER WEST SIDE — A fund dedicated to building the inaugural monument to women in Central Park got a huge boost from its first corporate sponsor this week, with a $500,000 gift from a life insurance company.
New York Life's $500,000 grant will help fund the monument to suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony planned for the southeast corner of West 77th Street and Central Park West, at the entrance to the park, a company spokeswoman announced Monday.
While there are dozens of statues representing male historical figures throughout Central Park, the only statues of women are of fictional characters like Alice in Wonderland. This inequity spurred Cady Stanton's great granddaughter, Coline Jenkins, 64, to join the push.
In 2014, Jenkins got the Parks Department to agree to the monument, but the nonprofit Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Statue Fund is responsible for raising $1.5 million to commission, install and maintain the statue.
As of early October, the fund had raised $170,000 toward its goal, said Jenkins at the time.
The goal is for the statue to act as an "instant history lesson" and to challenge other cities to include tributes to women in their public spaces, fund President Pam Elam said.
"...[F]irst and foremost, let's acknowledge the debt we owe to the valiant women who have come before us, be inspired by their legacies and complete their journeys toward equality," she added.
New York Life has a special connection to Susan B. Anthony, noted Heather Nesle, president of the company's foundation.
"Susan B. Anthony used money from her New York Life insurance policy to guarantee that women students would be admitted to the University of Rochester. In addition, Anthony's father and several male relatives were New York Life agents," she explained.
Along with funding from corporate sponsors and private donors, a Manhattan Girl Scout troop has made it their mission to solicit donations from passersby at the statue site each month.