New York Talking Statues Arrive on a Cellphone Near You



Frederick Douglass at the Circle at 110th Street and Frederick Douglass Blvd., Harlem

Talking Statues originated with David Peter Fox in Copenhagen, using modern technology to give voice to historical statues in parks and plazas around the world. The project grew to include Helsinki, London, San Diego, Berlin, and Chicago, And finally, New York Talking Statues will launch on July 12th, 2017 at the New York Historical Society’s West 77th Street entrance. The project gives voice to thirty-five sculptures, five of which are women, throughout the boroughs by way of cellphones. With so many sculptures in New York, the thirty-six statues were chosen by using three criteria. Historical statues, pertinent to New York City – statues erected by immigrants highlighting culture – and statues of artists who have contributed to this City.

The map runs from the Ellis Island Immigration Museum to Christopher Columbus on Court Street in Brooklyn, George Washington at Valley Forge on South 4th Street in Williamsburg, George Washington as Master Mason in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, to Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman in Harlem.

The Father Duffy Monument at Times Square was added to the list of talking monuments in June, 2019.

Below are just a few of the monuments who will be speaking.

Gertrude Stein, Bryant Park
Joan of Arc at 93rd Street, Riverside Park
Mahatma Gandhi, Union Square
Harriet Tubman at 122nd Street, Frederick Douglass Blvd. and St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem
Father Duffy Monument in Times Square. Image via Wikipedia

The project recognizes and acknowledges New York’s diversity and cultural richness, therefore “Besides English, the statues will also speak Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, and Greek, depending on which historical figure or event is celebrated. Near each statue will be a sign with a QR code; visitors ca scan the code or visit a website to choose their preferred language. A pre-recorded speech will play from their smartphone, typically lasting 90 seconds. People who do not have a QR reader app can download it for free.”

Here’s how it works.

The launch of New York Taking Statues will take place on Tuesday, July 12, at 11 am at New York Historical Society’s West 77th Street entrance, just off Central Park West.



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