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About the Minton Tiles at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, New York City


 The Bethesda Fountain is a landmark in Central Park. A terrace with Minton tiles leads to the Bethesda Terrace Arcade.

by David Stone

Assorted Ideas, Large & Small

water fountain
Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, New York City/Photo by Tommi Selander on

Philanthropist Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont donated the Bethesda fountain for his beloved his wife. He commissioned an architect named Thomas Hastings to design it, but Belmont died before construction began. The fountain was completed in 1921.

Four large bronze sculptures positioned around the Bethesda Fountain represent the water of four rivers: Those are the Danube, the Ganges, the Nile and the Rio de la Plata Rivers.

There is a lower octagonal basin with a 240 feet circumference. Four smaller sculptures surround it, each representing one of the four great oceans. The water flows into a narrow, oblong pool.

About the Bethesda Arcade with the Minton Tiles

The arcade was designed by Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould. It features slender columns above three arches covered by elaborate ironwork. The arcade has an intricate mosaic design. The tiles were designed by William de Leftwich Dodge and Henry Gaylor.

They were made by the Minton China and Tile Works Company in England, still today one of the leading producers and suppliers of ceramic tiles worldwide. Many people have admired this beautiful design since it was built in 1873.

Central Park Summer Fantasy Fine Art Print

Central Park Fantasy, ©Deborah Julian Fine Art Photography Print

 The arcade is famous for the beautiful Minton Tiles, which are called “Minton Ys” or “Minton Spots.” They are recognized by their colored circles in a white background. The tiles can be found in many places, including London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., and the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England.

How to get there…

Enter Central Park at 72nd Street on either side of the park. The Fountain, Terrace and Minton Tiles are in the middle of the park along the paved transverse at the north end of the Literary Walk.

The tile design was inspired by the gothic metalwork that Vaux saw at Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire. Many believe that Minton created this beautiful tile pattern just because it would be noticed more against a white background than any other color. The tiles are painted with different colors to help people find their way. The tiles in the Bethesda Arcade are blue, at the top and bottom of the arcade walls, and yellow on the sides.

Many people believe that it is bad luck to step on a spot. This belief may be because Minton fired some of its employees when one of them did this by accident. Others think it is bad luck to step on the white parts of the pattern, as this is where some of the paint failed to adhere to the tiles.

The Minton Tiles in the Bethesda Arcade are a beautiful example of buildings that have been around for over 130 years. The tiles show how much history and culture there is to explore at Central Park, just waiting to be discovered! Whether you’re an avid runner or not, this place will give you a sense of tranquility while exploring its beauty. Visit today and see what all the fuss is about; we promise it won’t disappoint!  What’s your favorite thing about visiting? Let us know in the comments below.

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