Columbus Circle is located between Eighth Avenue, Broadway, Central Park South, and Central Park West, at the southwest corner of Central Park. Named after Christopher Columbus, it is the point from which all official distances from New York City are measured. Symbolically, it was created on October 12, 1892, the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the New World.
Columbus Circle Monument
Around 10,000 people—including Italian, Spanish, and American dignitaries—gathered to dedicate the Columbus Monument. The Italian-American community donated Gaetano Russo’s sculpture of Columbus to the City of New York, placing it atop a massive pedestal.
Below the sculpture is a granite rostral column that descends to a cubed base where an allegorical figure depicts the Genius of Discovery. Under that, the sides are decorated in bas (low) relief. The imagery includes: Columbus’s journey, an American bald eagle, and lotus-shaped cresting. Sticking out from sides of the granite column in parallel lines of three, are bronze ship prows and anchors. They are to represent Columbus’s ships: the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María. Circling the monument are spraying fountains, designed by Douglas Leigh and gifted by the Delacorte Foundation in 1965.
William Phelps Eno, a businessman and the father of traffic safety, designed the circle itself, and was completed in 1905. He followed Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision for Central Park, including a “Grand Circle” at the Merchants’ Gate entrance.
Just outside the circle is the Time Warner Center, the world headquarters of the Time Warner corporation. The complex also hosts the Shops at Columbus Circle, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the New York City studio headquarters of CNN and the Mandarin Oriental, New York hotel. Many incredible restaurants surround the circle, including Landmarc, Per Se and Masa.
Columbus Circle also sits on the corner of Central Park at Merchant’s Gate, where the USS Maine National Monument stands. Additionally, Actors’ Equity, founded in 1914, started in the old Pabst Grand Circle Hotel at 2 Columbus Circle. That building was torn down in 1960 so that architect Edward Durrell Stone could build a new tower to house the Huntington Hartford Gallery of Modern Art. Then about four decades later, architect Brad Cloepfil transformed it for the Museum of Arts & Design.
In 2005, renovations began including wooden benches, new fountains, and foliage to create the busy, historic monument that we see today.