Location: Central Park, New York, USA Pharaoh: Tuthmosis III (reigned 1504-1450 B.C.) Height: 70 feet Weight: 193 tons Story: After the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, the ruler of Egypt, the
Khedive Ismail, promised the United States an obelisk. Henry Gorridge, a
lieutenant commander of the U.S. Navy, was appointed the task of transporting
it to New York from its pedestal in Alexandria. (It had been moved to
Alexandria from Heliopolis, where Tuthmosis III had erected it alongside its
companion, which is now in London.)
The obelisk and its 50-ton pedestal arrived at the Quarantine Station in New
York in July 1880. It took 32 horses hitched in 16 pairs to drag the pedestal
alone through the streets of the city. Once the pedestal was in place on the
summit of the Graywacke Knoll in Central Park, the obelisk was then hauled
through Manhattan. It traveled at the rate of 97 feet a day, taking 112 days to
arrive at the knoll. The shaft was raised in January 1881 before more than
10,000 jubilant New Yorkers.
At the raising, William Maxwell Evarts, then U.S. Secretary of State,
declared, "Who indeed can tell what our nation will do if any perversity is
possible of realization; and yet this obelisk may ask us, 'Can you expect to
flourish forever? Can you expect wealth to accumulate and man not decay? Can
you think that the soft folds of luxury are to wrap themselves closer and
closer around this nation and the pith and vigor of its manhood know no decay?
Can it creep over you and yet the nation know no decrepitude?' These are
questions that may be answered in the time of the obelisk but not in ours."