Daily photographs by HANS VON RITTERN, with humorous, artistic and social commentary on life in the big city.

Posts tagged “Christopher Columbus

Photo of the day: CIRCLING CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS

COLUMBUS CIRCLE

Photo of the day: CIRCLING COLUMBUS – Columbus Circle, named for Christopher Columbus, is a major landmark and point of attraction in  New York City, located at the intersection of Eighth Avenue, Broadway, Central Park South and Central Park West.

Completed in 1905 and renovated a century later, the circle was designed by William P. Enos – a businessman who pioneered many early innovations in road safety and traffic control – as part of Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision for Central Park, which included a “Grand Circle” at the Merchants’ Gate, its most important 8th Avenue entrance.

The monument at the center of Columbus Circle, created by Italian sculptor Gaetona Russo was erected as part of New York’s 1892 commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the Americas. Constructed with funds raised by Il Progresso a New York City-based Italian-language newspaper, raising the money  from Italian immigrants with their pennies, nickles and dimes,  the monument consists of a marble statue of Columbus atop a 70-foot (21 m) granite column decorated with bronze reliefs representing Columbus’ ships: the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria.

If you are fan of the classic TV show “The Odd Couple”, the fountain was featured in the opening and closing credits in the later runs of the show. At the time the monument was sitting within a fountain, the design of which now has been renovated.  The credits’ scene is where Felix meets Oscar by a big fountain in New York City’s Columbus Circle: Oscar throws a cigar butt in the fountain, Felix barks at him to pick it up, and Oscar scoops it up with his shoe then places the wet and soiled cigar butt in Felix’s pocket.

Renovations to the circle completed in 2005 included new water fountains by WET, of Fountains of Bellagio fame; wooden benches; and plantings encircling the monument. The inner circle measures approximately 36,000 square feet (3,300 m2), and the outer circle is approximately 148,000 square feet (13,700 m2). Day or night, it is still of the most majestic places in Manhattan.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbYnySdp0d4


THE MAN IN THE MIRROR – CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS REDISCOVERED continued . . .

THE MAN IN THE MIRROR: …is Christopher Columbus, usually seen 70 feet above Columbus Circle in Manhattan. Starting this week, Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi has enclosed the statue in an 810 square foot living room complete with a big screen TV, couches, magazines for you to read and wallpaper that features American icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, hot dogs and the Grand Canyon. It is all part of a temporary art project funded by the Public Art Fund.
Before the art installation

Before the art installation

Eagerly I climbed the six flights of scaffolding stairs as the view got more and more incredible, literally a bird’s eye view.
 
It is surreal when you first enter the ‘living room’. Reactions range from absurdly ridiculous, insane and ugly to genius, innovative and brilliant. Upon hearing of the idea first my reaction was unflattering. A scar on our city I thought, a gimmick, defacing the discoverer of our land. But then…as I climbed the stairs….and entered the room….and saw Columbus for the first time in my 56 years of living in this city, face to face, my opinion changed instantly.
 
 Reactions are a mixture of astonishment, bemusement and wonderment. Smiles are instant. To watch the faces of the people as they enter the room is a show in itself. You are encouraged to sit, make yourself comfortable, read the daily supplied papers…just don’t sit on the windowsill as the attendants will tell you. There is even a vinatge copy of Walt Whitman’s ‘Leaves Of Grass’ on the bookshelf. You are to observe every tiny detail as you make your way around the room.
 
I have been to countless public art projects in my lifetime in this city, this one is one of the most inventive. (I am not a fan of Christo.) It brings me almost face to face with a statue the was literally paid for by the Italian immigrants in this city, paid for with their hard earned pennies, nickels and dimes.
 
Created by Italian sculptor Gaetano Russo, it was erected as part of New York’s 1892 commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the Americas. Il Progresso a New York City-based Italian language newspaper spearheaded the campaign for it’s citizens to donate what they could. I think they would be proud and smile, exclaiming “Bella! Bravo per gli Americani! Fantastico!”

Photo of the day: THE MAN IN THE MIRROR

THE MAN IN THE MIRROR: …is Christopher Columbus, usually seen 70 feet above Columbus Circle in Manhattan. Starting this week, Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi has enclosed the statue in an 810 square foot living room complete with a big screen TV, couches, magazines for you to read and wallpaper that features American icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, hot dogs and the Grand Canyon. It is all part of a temporary art project funded by the Public Art Fund.  Story to continue…