Columbus circle is a large roundabout, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in his 1857 vision for the park, which included a rotary on the southwest corner of the park. It lays just next to the Merchant gate.
It was was originally known as just “The Circle” but got its name by the Christopher Columbus statue that got installed there in 1892. The monument is 76 – foot tall and was created by Gaetano Russo. It consists of 14-foot marble monument of Columbus atop a large granite column.It is decorated with bronze reliefs of his three ships: the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María. The pedestal features an angel holding a globe. More details were added at a later point - the fountains, inspired by those in Rome are gift from the Delacorte Foundation, for Columbus Day. It was installed in October 12, 1965.
The monument was part of the three monuments planned to be installed in 1892 to commemorate of the 400th anniversary of Columbus' landing in the Americas. Its first location was planned to be Bowling Green or somewhere in Lower Manhattan, with the first location being. “Il Progresso”, a New York City-based Italian-language newspaper took up the cause to rais the required fund. They received donations from Italian American businessmen from all over States. It was officially unveiled on October 13, 1892, during the 400th anniversary celebrations. Gen. L.P. di Cesnola, the Director of the Met, stated that “true monument is this great land, its institutions, its prosperity, its blessing, its lessons of advance for all humanity.”
It had its fair share of controversy in 2017’s monument controversies. The monument was highly criticized by people of native descent because of Columbus’ actions. There were calls to remove or relocated by, and even some acts of vandalism were commited. This was all opposed by the Italian America community, as well as the members of the New York State Board of Historic Preservation. It was placed on the list of the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), and the statue had its security measures increased.
And a fun fact to end on a higher note – Columbus Circle is considered New York City’s zero mile point.