Christopher Columbus Statue in Central Park


For the 400th anniversary of Columbus' voyage in 1492, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society commissioned Spanish sculptor Jeronimo Sunol (1839-1902) to fashion this bronze portrait sculpture. The statue employs religious and imperialist imagery as the explorer holds in his right hand the Spanish flag with a cross on top. At his side, a globe is mounted to a cable-entwined capstan. The statue bears similarities to Sunol's Columbus monument installed in 1885 at the Plaza de Colon in Madrid. The statue rests on an elaborately carved granite pedestal with numerous undercuts, bevels and moldings designed by architect Napoleon Le Brun. It complements the monuments of Shakespeare, the Indian Hunter, and Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns installed earlier in the southern region of the Mall in Central Park. On May 12, 1894 the statue was unveiled during a ceremony presided over by the sculpture committee's chairman, General James Grant Wilson. The large crowd of spectators and participants included Vice President Adlai Ewing Stevenson, Mayor Thomas Francis Gilroy, Park Board President Abraham Tappen, Bishop Henry C. Potter, Italian Ambassador Baron de Fava, Spanish Minister Senor Don Muruaga, business magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt and author and social reformer Julia Ward Howe. Mr. Chauncey M. Depew, the orator for the occasion commented, "New York can add nothing to the glory of Columbus, but she may enforce the lesson of his life and discovery." The Central Park Conservancy last refurbished the statue in 1993.

Installed, 1892