Located in the southwest corner of Central Park sits Columbus Circle, and its center, a 70-foot statue of infamous Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus. Unveiled on October 12, 1892 on the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage to the Americas, the statue sculpted by Roman sculptor Gaetano Russo was gifted to the city by the Italian-Americans of New York.
While Columbus remains a controversial figure in America’s history, the statue itself still holds some interesting facts. An Italian-language newspaper called Il Progresso had launched the campaign to gather funds for the statue which would be laid down at the geographical center of New York City.
For the laying of the statues cornerstone in 1892, a procession was held from Little Italy up to Columbus Circle. Close to ten thousand people attended the dedication ceremony.
Columbus Circle, 1907. Image from Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons.
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.
In 2012, artist Tatzu Nishi situated the statue inside a fully furnished living room as part of his Discovering Columbus exhibit. Visitors had to ascend six flight of stairs to reach the fictional space, where they found the statue posing on a coffee table; to add to the authenticity of the experience, Nishi fitted the room with furniture, including tables, chairs, a flat-screen television, and even custom-designed wallpaper.
For more, check out The Top 10 Secrets of Columbus Circle in NYC and see the Logic to the Selection of Manhattan’s Major Cross Streets.