More than 3,000 years old, this timeless beauty towers 69 feet high and weighs a staggering 220 tons.
The hieroglyphics on the Obelisk’s surface are but a glimpse into its ancient history. It was one of two obelisks commissioned circa 1450 BC to commemorate Pharaoh Thutmose III's 30th year of reign; each was carved from a single slab of quarried rose granite. They stood for 1,500 years before being toppled by war and left to ruin. In 18 AD, both obelisks were discovered, moved to Alexandria, and erected in front of Cleopatra’s Caesarium—earning the nickname that endures today. Limestone pedestals and bronze crabs were added to each corner.
After gifting one of the obelisks to London in 1878, where it still stands on the banks of the Thames, Egypt sold the second to the United States. Its journey would mark a tremendous feat of engineering. From the banks of the Hudson River, the Obelisk made a 112-day trek to Central Park via a makeshift railroad system built for the occasion. It was finally turned upright on January 22, 1881, to great fanfare.
A time capsule buried beneath contains the 1870 US census, a Bible, a Webster’s Dictionary, the complete works of William Shakespeare, a guide to Egypt, and a copy of the Declaration of Independence. A small box was also placed in the capsule by the man who orchestrated the Obelisk’s purchase and transportation; to this day, its contents are unknown.
Things you can do here
Enjoy the sweeping vistas of the Great Lawn from the newly restored Belvedere Castle while learning about its rich history and the Conservancy’s work to preserve this architectural gem.
Tags: Staff Picks
Explore the middle of Central Park with stops at the Park’s miniature castle, a popular turtle hangout, and the oldest outdoor monument in New York City.
Literary figures, ancient artifacts, and historic arches await.
Spot more than 70 species of trees on this beautiful walk up the east side.
Tags: Tree Walks