Standing tall and proud in Central Park, west of East Drive and 67th Street and north of the Tisch Children’s Zoo, is a bronze hero, Balto. But who is Balto, and why was the monument created in the first place?
According to Central Park’s website, in January 1925, Nome, Alaska was hit with a diphtheria outbreak. The only cure: an antitoxin, 674 miles away in Anchorage.
A Siberian Husky named Balto, accompanied by a ferocious team of sled dogs, made national headlines as they traveled through a treacherous blizzard to Anchorage. Balto guided his team on the last relay of the mission, the most crucial step in transporting the medicine that Nome, Alaska so desperately needed.
The sled dogs’ mission was successful and they made national headlines, being celebrated throughout the country.
In order to recognize such heroic bravery, a group of New York artists and, of course, dog lovers raised money to honor Balto, and Frederick George Richard Roth, famed Brooklyn-born sculptor, was commissioned to memorialize the canine. On December 15, 1925, a bronze statue was unveiled in Central Park – a stunning recreation of Alaska’s hero, Balto.
Balto’s statue has been a fan favorite over the past nine decades – children regularly climb up onto him for a quick photo or to pretend to take a ride on his back. He even looks a bit burnished on his back and around his ears – a sign that he’s been well loved and has garnered a lot of attention over the last 90+ years.
Sadly, Balto passed away in 1933, but thanks to Roth his legacy lives on. Engraved on the statue’s plaque reads: Endurance, Fidelity, Intelligence. Words we can all still live by today, proving just how immense Balto’s accomplishments really were.