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Central Park
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Image by peterjr1961
Christopher Columbus Statue

In 1473, Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) embarked on his first maritime voyage from his home near Genoa, Italy headed for the island of Khios in the Aegean Sea. Upon his return in 1476, he traveled in a convoy destined for England. Legend has it that pirates sunk Columbus’s ship near the coast of Portugal. Columbus swam to shore and settled in Lisbon, where his brother Bartholomew worked as a cartographer.

Based on speculative maps, Columbus concluded that there was a quicker route to the markets of Asia than was yet known. Instead of heading south and circumnavigating Africa, Columbus proposed to sail west. In the 1480s, Columbus presented this proposal to the monarchs of Portugal and Spain. In April 1492, King Ferdinand V and Queen Isabella of Spain agreed to sponsor Columbus’s proposed voyage. On August 3, 1492, the three modest ships that comprised Columbus’s party, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria, set sail. They sighted land on October 12, 1492. The ships landed on Guanahani, an island in the Bahamas. Columbus claimed the land for the King of Spain and renamed the island San Salvador. Believing he had reached the West Indies, Columbus called the natives "los Indios," or Indians. The members of the expedition returned to Spain triumphantly on March 15, 1493. After receiving a title of nobility, Christopher Columbus immediately launched a larger expedition. On November 3, 1493, this fleet of 17 ships anchored near present day Puerto Rico. His third and fourth voyages set sail in 1498 and 1502.

Columbus’s early descriptions of the Americas, as in his "The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus (1828) documented Columbus"s story. Focusing largely on his arrival in the Americas as opposed to the colonization of the area, Irving and others enshrined Columbus as a hero. His popular reputation ever after became that of the bold, courageous adventurer who enabled American civilization, and he is memorialized here and elsewhere as such.

About ten thousand people, including Italian, Spanish, and American dignitaries, gathered in Columbus Circle on October 12, 1892, the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus in the "New World." Together they dedicated the Columbus Monument, designed by Sicilian sculptor Gaetano Russo and donated to the City of New York by the Italian-American community. Gen. L.P. di Cesnola, the Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, spoke at the event, telling the audience that Columbus’s "true monument is this great land, its institutions, its prosperity, its blessing, its lessons of advance for all humanity."

The monument consists of a statue of Columbus posed on a column mounted on a base surrounded by fountains; an allegorical figure depicting the Genius of Discovery stands on the base. Both Columbus and the latter figure are carved of Carrara marble. Bronze elements include two bas-reliefs portraying Columbus’s journey, as well as an American bald eagle and lotus-shaped cresting. In addition, bronze ships’ prows and anchors adorn the granite column. The total height of the plinth, pedestal, column and sculpture is 77 feet, enabling passerby to see the monument from miles away on a clear day.

Early in the 20th century, the monument was fortified with complex supports engineered for the new subway system to be tunneled beneath it. A lavish wrought-iron fence was installed encircling the monument. In 1965, the installation of fountains and illumination with funds from book publisher and philanthropist George T. Delacorte (1894-1991) enhanced the site. The fountains, designed by Douglas Leigh, were inspired by water displays in Rome. In 1990 and 1991, the monument underwent an extensive renovation funded by the Columbus Citizens Foundation, under the auspices of the Adopt-A-Monument Program, a joint venture of Parks, the Municipal Art Society, and the New York City Art Commission. George Delacorte and Arthur Ross donated additional funds for the restoration of the decorative fence. The Central Park Conservancy, through an endowment established by Mr. Delacorte’s heirs, will continue to maintain the monument in the future.

Food Cart, New York City day trip, Dec 6, 2008
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Image by flickr4jazz
We’re still trying to find out what kind of meat they use at these stands. All I know is that there weren’t any stray cats or dogs wondering around in Times Square. Just in case you didn’t know, this cart like many others in NYC serve "Halal" meat which means that the animal had to be killed without being stunned and drown in its own blood. Halal meat is illegal in Denmark and several other countries. England is looking into outlawing it as well. Even most meat-eaters consider Halal a vicious practice!

MTV or the Bank of America?
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Image by Nataraj Metz
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Midtown Manhattan, New York City, Ney York

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