Though opinions on Christopher Columbus have drastically changed in recent years (Seattle recently swapped Columbus Day for Indigenous Peoples’ Day), Columbus has long been at the center of our national consciousness and New York City’s in particular. Columbia College was christened in 1784, Manhattan’s Ninth Avenue was renamed Columbus Avenue in 1890 and Columbus Circle was constructed in 1905. There are also five statues of Christopher Columbus across four boroughs (for a time, three of the five were in Manhattan), only George Washington has more. Presented below from most famous to most obscure are New York City’s Columbus monuments.
Discovering Columbus installation by Tatzu Nishi in 2012
The monument dedicated to Columbus at Columbus Circle was unveiled on October 12, 1892. It commemorated the 400th anniversary of his arrival in the New World. Close to ten thousand people attended the dedication ceremony where General L.P. di Cesnola, the Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, spoke about how Columbus’ “true monument is this great land, its institutions, its prosperity, its blessing, its lessons of advance for all humanity.”
The statue of Columbus and the column it rests upon are carved of Carrara marble, with additional ornamentation depicting Columbus’ journey, American patriotic symbols, and allegorical figures. The monument was restored in 1992 in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ expedition, and in 2012 artist Tatzu Nishi encircled the statue with a living room, enabling visitors to get up close with the statue.
Also discover our Vintage Photos of Columbus Circle.