11. Oldest Man-Made Monument: Cleopatra’s Needle

Cleopatra's needle in Central Park

How Cleopatra’s Needle made it to Central Park is an epic tale of engineering brilliance, Yankee ingenuity, clever diplomacy, and sheer persistence. Constructed by order of Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III in 1443 BC for his jubilee, it was moved through the idea of US naval officer Henry Honeychurch Gorringe from Alexandria to New York City in 1880 with assistance from Henry Hurlbert owner of the New York World newspaper, William Henry Vanderbilt, Henry Stebbins, the city’s Commissioner of Parks and Elbert Farman, American consul-general in Egypt.

Moving the 200-ton obelisk and 50-ton base involved purchasing a steamship, excavating the obelisk, and crossing the Atlantic. It took 16 weeks to move the obelisk from 96th Street to Greywacke Knoll in Central Park, taking 19 days, night and day just to cross the park on the 86th St Transverse during bitter winter weather. The second oldest man-made item is the Column of Jerash, an ancient Roman column that dates to 120 A.D.