NOVA Online (click here for NOVA home)
Mysteries of the Nile
Site Map

NYC obelisk New York
back to A World of Obelisks

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."

Back to A World of Obelisks

Photo: Courtesy of

Explore Ancient Egypt | Raising the Obelisk | Meet the Team
Dispatches | Pyramids | E-Mail | Resources
Classroom Resources | Site Map | Mysteries of the Nile Home

Editor's Picks | Previous Sites | Join Us/E-mail | TV/Web Schedule
About NOVA | Teachers | Site Map | Shop | Jobs | Search | To print
PBS Online | NOVA Online | WGBH

© | Updated November 2000