Colombus Obelisk Baltimore


Public Art: Columbus Obelisk

Architect: © unknown

Description: The 44ft 7inch high obelisk is made from brick covered in white stucco.

Date Unveiled: Unveiled in 1792 and dedicated on the 12th October, 1792.

Funded by : Charles Francois Adrian de Paulmier, Chevalier d'Anmour, the French Consul to Baltimore

Location:You can find the oldest Colombus Monument in the world in Herring Run Park, near Harford Road , Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Awkward: For many years, the obelisk was thought to have been built in honor of a horse who bore the name Christopher Colombus. It didn't help matters when  J. Thomas Scharf further added to the confusion by repeating the error in his monumental 1881 history of the city and Baltimore County.

Colombus Monument's Sorry Past: The Colombus obelisk was the first monument erected in North America in honor of Christopher Colombus. OK, would you believe in the world? It's true.

The obelisk was erected by a Frenchman, Chevalier d'Anemours at his 50 acre Belmont estate (now North Avenue, Baltimore's northern boundary) after a comment was made, at one of his social gatherings, that no monument had ever been erected in the new United States to Christopher Colombus . On August the 3rd, 1792 he rectified that by erecting a 44ft stucco covered brick obeslisk . It was dedicated on October the 12th, the date of the explorer's arrival in the Americas.

This was all fine and dandy for those who were guests of the Chevalier, but for others, no one new of its existence. Over the decades, as the private estate changed through several hands the obelisk fell into ruins and was almost competely forgotten. In 1863, much to their surprise, a group of  Union soldiers (staying at Belmont) who were cutting trees for firewood stumbled across it. After the Civil War the vegetation once again reclaimed it. It was rediscovered a good time later by a  group of Johns Hopkins students exploring the woods.

In 1938 a Sears Roebuck's store was built on the Belmont site and the monument was declared too fragile to move, so the poor old obelisk spent its time in the carpark, mingling amongst the shoppers.

In 1963 the monument was finally moved to Druid park, where it stands today, still relatively ignored.

"The monument has played a weird game of hide and seek from the public. It has completely disappeared from public consciousness so far as any available records show, only to bob up and down again."  1930's Newspaper article.

Trivia :

Baltimore has three monuments dedicated to Christopher Colombus, even more than Genoa, his home town in Italy.

Can you believe that Baltimore nearly had a fourth Colombus monument? Yes, in 1999 Russian artist Zurab Tsereteli offered his 600 tonne, 360 foot bronze Colombus monument as a gift from Russia to US. The city kindly declined, but not before nicknaming it "From Russia with Ugh".  In fact the monument was offered to several  cities in the USA but no one was willing to take it. Columbus, Ohio called it "Chris Kong" while another mocked "it would make a good artificial reef ” . The sculpture is twice the size of the Statue of Liberty for goodness sakes! It took 20 years, but in 2014  Tsereteli finally found a home for his artwork. Thank you Arecibo, Puerto Rico. The cost to assemble the statue from its 2,750 pieces is estimated to be than $20 million dollars (£12.8m). With everything going to plan, the enormous Colombus should be unveiled in 2015 and will be the largest monument in the American hemisphere. Fingers crossed.

Other Colombus Monuments:


Barcelona - Barcelona's Colombus Monument


New York City - New York City's Colombus Monument,

References: The Baltimore Sun Newspaper, article: Baltimore's oldest Columbus monument regains status; May 21, 1992; By Robert A. Erlandson.

The Telegraph newspaper article; 29 Jul 2010, Too ugly Christopher Columbus statue finds home after 20 years, By Fiona Govan.

Caribbean Buiness newspaper article ; April 6, 2014, 300-foot Columbus statue going up on PR coast after two-decade odyssey, by CB Online Staff.

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