This 68-foot-tall, 224-ton Egyptian obelisk stands in New York City's Central Park, behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Staring up at the huge chunk of stone, we might wonder how it got all the way from Egypt to the U.S.
By ship, of course—but it wasn't easy. Apparently Lt. Commander Henry Honeychurch Gorringe, U.S. Navy, wasn't able to get an Egyptian crew to sign on and sail to America, so he brought in a Serbian “crew” that—it turned out—not only didn't speak a word of English, but also didn't have any experience at sea!
The ship with the monument arrived at Staten Island in July of 1880. It was floated up the Hudson River and unloaded at the 51st Street dock, where 32 horses were hitched to it. The horses slowly pulled the stone to Central Park, where it was finally erected about half a year after its arrival in the U.S.
Curiouser and curiouser...
- Although the obelisk is a genuine Ancient Egyptian monument, it had nothing to do with Cleopatra. As a matter of fact, the “needle” was already about 1,000 years old when she lived! ...Instead, it was carved and erected in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis on orders of the pharaoh Thutmose III, around 1450 BC.
- The twin of this monument, built at the same time and place and also referred to as “Cleopatra's Needle,” was installed a few years earlier in London, England. A third Egyptian obelisk, which was erected at Ancient Egypt's Luxor Temple under the pharaoh Ramesses II, was installed in Paris earlier in the 1800s.
- According to Sharon Waxman, author of Loot, “Storms and pollution [in New York City] have erased most of the hieroglyphics on a monument that had survived for some 3,500 years in Egypt without substantial damage.” Present-day Egypt is wisely reluctant to let go of any more of its precious historical and artistic treasures.
Learn more about Ancient Egypt
Try Mr. Donn's website.
Or King Tut One – which has pictures to color and puzzles to solve!