Giant Pumpkins in New York Botanical Garden

There is a long tradition  of growing fruits and vegetables to be shown at country fairs. The history of the growing  giant pumpkins can be traced back to 1857 when Henry David Thoreau,  American poet, philosopher,  and  naturalist  harvested a pumpkin weighing almost 124 pounds. The first official record was set on 1900 in Paris World's Fair. Four years later in 1904   William Warnock of Goderich, Ontario, using seeds from the same strain, produced a 400-pounder, a pumpkin so mind-bogglingly enormous that he was invited to display it at the Paris World’s Fair. Warnock’s pumpkin remained the undisputed champion of squash for nearly a century—until Howard Dill, of Windsor, Nova Scotia, developed the pumpkin breed now known as Atlantic Giant.

 By  1996 the world record passed the 1,000 pound mark, and in 2012  Ron Wallace from Rhode Island broke  2,000 pound barrier.   Seeds from Wallace’s 2,009-pound pumpkin have sold for more than $1,000 in a charity auction.   (….)

According to scientists  at the Georgia Institute of Technology, there’s no reason to think the pumpkin is going to stop at a mere two tons. The vines can grow 1 foot or more daily, and pumpkins can put on 45 pounds per day, mostly from water.  Based on force measurements—in which hapless pumpkins are crushed in vices—the researchers concluded that pumpkins should be able to attain weights of up to 20,000 pounds. (….)

This year  Steve Geddes from New Hampshire , won $6,000    in prize money   at the Deerfield Fair for his first place pumpkin.  The Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, the global body that sets the standards for giant pumpkin growing,  stated that the  pumpkin by Geddes, weighing in at an astounding 2,528 pounds,  is the biggest pumpkin ever grown in North America and falls less than 100 pounds short of the heaviest pumpkin ever grown. 

This year New York Botanical Garden in collaboration with the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth organized  the Giant Pumpkin Exhibition.  Monstrous pumpkins from around the country—some weighing in at more than a ton are  on display through October 31. Kids can explore in the garden  more than 100 friendly, larger-than-life scarecrows set among nearly 1,000 rare and unusual pumpkins and gourds.

 On Wednesday New York botanical Garden is free! 

Columbus Column monument at the center of Columbus Circle.

 About 2:00AM,    October  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 is 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! 

Last year Christopher Columbus  monument  got a lot of attention from New Yorkers debating what kind of monuments are appropriate in what some call this age of political correctness.Concern over what should become of the controversial monuments ― which Mayor Bill de Blasio referred to as “symbols of hate” ― bubbled over in August  a year ago  when a  rally protesting the removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned violent.
Over 120 artists and scholars from around the country published an open letter o requesting the removal of Columbus monument.
The letter reads in part:
By far the most controversial of the monuments is that to Christopher Columbus, who served the Spanish crown, and spoke and wrote only in Catalan. Because he was born in Genoa in 1451 – a city that did not become “Italy” until the unification of the country in 1861 – he was adopted as a patriotic symbol by Italian immigrants in the nineteenth century. But the public claim of “ownership” of Columbus by Italian-Americans cannot be allowed to override his key role in the historical genocide of Indigenous peoples of the Americas. By 1600, at least 50 million Indigenous people died in this hemisphere as a result of the Columbian encounter with Europeans, whether from war, disease or enslavement. It takes only a little understanding to see why their descendants do not regard anything associated with 1492 as an object of veneration.”

The New York City commission  was created to evaluate controversial public monuments.January 2018 majority of the commission voted to keep the Columbus statue in place, but de Blasio also decided that the city will commission a new monument that recognizes the contributions of indigenous peoples.

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