Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Karl Doringer
The 76-foot statue was officially listed on the State Register on Sept. 20
By Forum Staff
The State Board for Historic Preservation has listed the Central Park monument to Christopher Columbus on the State Register of Historic Places and recommended the statue for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday, Columbus Day.
According to the administration, the 76-foot rostral column was officially listed on the State Register on Sept. 20after a unanimous vote of the State BHP. A listing on the State Register of Historic Places is an honorific designation. Any State-funded activity or permit affecting the statue would have to be reviewed by the State Historic Preservation Office and negative impacts would have to be corrected or mitigated.
Cuomo characterized the monument that was erected in 1892 as “a powerful symbol of the Italian-American community and a testament to New York’s role in assimilating immigrants from all over the world in our state. This designation sends a strong message of the statue’s importance to our state’s history and how worthy it is of preservation so that future generations cans see it, appreciate it and learn from it.”
According to State officials, the Columbus monument is historically significant as an outstanding example of public art as well as a representation of ethnic and social history. Italian immigrants faced strong prejudice and hostility as they arrived in increasing numbers in the late 19th century. Seeking inclusion in mainstream American society, Italian American community leaders turned to the image of Columbus to create an Italian-American ethnic identity that they believed would overcome prejudice and promote assimilation. Funds for the statue were raised by Carlo Barsotti, founder of Il Progresso, the first Italian-language daily newspaper in America, and the Columbus monument is one of five statues dedicated to great Italians erected in the city during the first three decades that Il Progresso was published. It was designed by Italian artist Gaetano Russo, well-known as a sculptor of allegorical figures and commemorative monuments in Italy.
Additionally, the State Parks Department forwarded a nomination of the Columbus statue to the National Park Service for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. National Register listing is an honored recognition of historic significance and offers protections for the statue under State and federal historic preservation laws. National Register listing would also make the statue eligible for State and federal grant programs, Cuomo noted.
Other statues and buildings on the State Register of Historic Places include the Statue of Liberty, Radio City Music Hall, the Empire State Building, and the home of the Columbus monument, Central Park.