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Columbus Circle, with Time Warner Center in background.

Columbus Circle, named for Christopher Columbus, is a major landmark and point of attraction in the New York City borough of Manhattan. Completed in 1905 and renovated a century later, it is located at the intersection of Broadway, Central Park West, Central Park South (59th Street), and Eighth Avenue, at the southwest corner of Central Park, with coordinates 40°46′05″N 73°58′55″W / 40.76806°N 73.98194°W / 40.76806; -73.98194Coordinates: 40°46′05″N 73°58′55″W / 40.76806°N 73.98194°W / 40.76806; -73.98194. The traffic circle was designed by William P. Eno, a businessman who pioneered many early innovations in road safety and traffic control, as part of Frederick Law Olmsted's vision for the park, which included a "Grand Circle" at Merchants' Gate, its most important Eighth Avenue entrance.

Contents

Monument

The monument at the center, created by Italian sculptor Gaetano Russo,[1] is the point at which distances to and from New York City are officially measured. It was erected as part of New York's 1892 commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus' first voyage to the Americas. Constructed with funds raised by Il Progresso, a New York City-based Italian-language newspaper, the monument consists of a marble statue of Columbus atop a 70-foot (21 m) granite rostral column decorated with bronze reliefs representing Columbus' ships: the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María. Its pedestal features an angel holding a globe.

Renovations to the circle completed in 2005 included new water fountains by WET, of Fountains of Bellagio fame; wooden benches; and plantings encircling the monument. The inner circle measures approximately 36,000 square feet (3,300 m2), and the outer circle is approximately 148,000 square feet (13,700 m2). The redesign, by the Olin Partnership of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was the recipient of the 2006 American Society of Landscape Architects’ General Design Award Of Honor.

Transportation hub

From its inception, Columbus Circle has been a major transportation hub.
The M5, M7, M10, M20, and M104 bus lines and the A, B, C, D, and #1 New York City Subway lines all connect at the 59th Street-Columbus Circle station.

Neighborhood

View of Columbus Circle, looking toward the east side down Central Park South from inside the Time Warner Center

Time Warner Center, the world headquarters of the Time Warner corporation, is located on the west side of Columbus Circle on the site of the old New York Coliseum. 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. On the north side of Columbus Circle is the Trump International Hotel and Tower, with its famous steel globe. Immediately prior, the edifice had been an office tower, the Gulf + Western Building, housing the New York City headquarters of Paramount Pictures. Other notable institutions around Columbus Circle are the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Fordham University, New York Institute of Technology, the Professional Children's School, The Beacon School, and the Ethical Culture Fieldston School.

On the northeast lies the Merchant's Gate to Central Park, dominated by the Maine Monument designed by Harold Van Buren Magonigle. An imposing Beaux-Arts edifice of marble and gilded bronze, it was built in 1913 as a memorial to sailors killed aboard the battleship USS Maine, whose mysterious 1898 explosion in Havana harbor precipitated the Spanish-American War.

The neighborhood around Columbus Circle is vibrant and eclectic. Within one mile (1.6 km) are Lincoln Center, the American Museum of Natural History, the Plaza Hotel near Grand Army Plaza, Hearst Tower, and Times Square. The Hell's Kitchen and Midtown neighborhoods lie to the south and the Upper West Side to the north.

One of the buildings adjoining Columbus Circle, 2 Columbus Circle, was designed by architect Edward Durrell Stone to house the Huntington Hartford Gallery of Modern Art. Vacant since the city's Department of Cultural Affairs departed in 1998, it was listed as one of the World Monuments Fund's "100 most endangered sites". The building's radical transformation into the new home for the Museum of Arts & Design continues to raise hackles [1] for the failure of the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission to hold hearings on its worthiness for designation. 240 Central Park South, the 1941, balconied moderne apartment building across Broadway from the museum, is a city-designated landmark with a new addition atop its retail base, a green roof.

In the media

Columbus Circle also appeared in the movie Ghostbusters as the site where the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man begins his trip towards 55 Central Park West, and is used as the somewhat serendipitous dominant location in the movie August Rush.

Columbus Circle, circa 1907

Footnotes

References

External links

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