Saturday, October 12, 2013

Columbus monument

521 years ago, on about 2:00 on the morning of  12,  1492 a lookout on the Pinta spotted a   land and alerted the rest of the crew with a shout.  Pinta was one of the three modest ships that comprised Columbus’s party, and the land was one of the Bahamas Islands. It was his first voyage. Four hundred years later in 1892 the monument of Christopher Columbus was erected in  celebration of the 400th anniversary of the great explorer's voyage.

     A marble statue was   created by Italian sculptor Gaetano Russo. A sculptor of allegorical figures in marble and of commemorative monuments, Gaetano Russo was born in Messina, Sicily and was a student in Rome.
The monument stands about 70 feet (twenty-one meters) above ground on a granite column that rests on a stepped base.


 Above them, on the southern face of the base, a winged figure of angel   leans over a globe. He the “the Genius of Geography”, who is showing his amazement at the newly introduced theory that the Earth is round. The inscription states, in reference to Christopher Columbus, “to the world he gave a world.”
The column is decorated with bronze ship prows that represent the explorer's three famous ships: the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria.

At the unveiling ceremony of the statue, Carlo Barsotti, editor of the Italian-language newspaper Il Progresso Italoamericano, declared that the Columbus Memorial “was offered by the Italian residents in the United States as a testimonial of their love for the institutions of this Republic and a tribute to their great country-man.”

The New York Times, on September 17, 1892, reported on the laying of the cornerstone of the monument, which included a procession from Little Italy up Fifth Avenue:

Columbus Statue in Central Park

 “It was something unusual for the avenue and the regular promenaders were to be seen gazing at the spectacle from the chamber windows while Italian peripatetic vendors thronged the sidewalks, and Italian mothers in rainbow attire dandled their children in their arms on the steps of millionaires’ palaces. The column of men in uniforms seldom seen above Bleecker Street marched up between the rows of brownstone houses to the lively music of the Italian national air. It was Italy’s day…”
Plaza de Colon, Madrid
 In 1989, then NYC Mayor Edward Koch proclaimed that this monument was “among our city’s most important cultural artifacts.”

This statue is one of five sculptures of Columbus in New York City’s parks.
Columbus in the  Bronx
Another can be found  at the southern end of The Mall in Central Park, west of West 66th Street. It was done by a  Spanish sculptor Suñol’s and is a close copy of his earlier one that was installed in the Plaza de Colon ( Columbus)in Madrid in 1889. Here, Columbus is shown with a flag, a globe and a capstan: a rope-winding device used on ships.
Queens, Columbus Square

Columbus Park, Brooklyn
The others statues are located in the Bronx   at  D'Auria-Murphy Triangle, a small park named  for    two local men who lost their lives in combat during World War I, and  Columbus Square in Queens  and Columbus Park in Brooklyn. 

Only George Washington, who lived in New York City while he was President, is commemorated here in more sculpture. By the way, New York State has  24 such testimonials, and New Jersey has 32 Columbus statues!

Read more:  Daytonian in Manhattan
Read more: The Voyager in Marble ( Article in New York Times)