New York City wouldn’t be the same without the scores of statues that decorate its many parks, plazas and other public spaces. From Christopher Columbus at Columbus Circle to Atlas supporting the world on his shoulders at Rockefeller Center, New York City sculptures range in subject, size and style, from historic stone and bronze to brightly-colored modern and even post-modern sculptures. But every now and then, a statue stops you in your tracks as you wonder, what is that doing here? We’ve rounded up the quirkiest and most surprising statues in New York City, from a former communist leader to a giant bronze rat.
10. Ralph Ellison Memorial in Riverside Park
Photo credit: Kelli Trapnell
The design of this sculpture certainly exemplifies Ralph Ellison’s book Invisible Man, since there is no man but only a silhouette. The sculpture was created in 2002 by Elizabeth Catlett and placed in Riverside Park. Ralph Ellison lived at 730 Riverside Drive, near the park, and wrote about the struggles of being a young African American man in New York City who felt ignored by society despite his talent and promise. When the book first came out in 1952, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks and remains a classic of American literature to this day. Perhaps if Ralph Ellison had seen this statue, he wouldn’t feel so invisible anymore.