After living in New York City for almost 2.5 years, I finally made out to visit the obelisk in Central Park. I was running an errand on the UES, and figured since I close by I should stop. The obelisk known as “Cleopatra’s Needle” is one of a pair. The other half-lives in London. While working in Covent Garden, I would visit the other “Cleopatra’s Needle” usually after work. I also have visited the needle in Paris, which is not part of this NYC/London pair, but is part of a pair that marked the entrance to the Luxor Temple.
The Central Park obelisk is located behind the MET or basically E. 82nd street. Photo by Arturo Fernandez
The surface of the stone is heavily weathered, nearly masking the rows of Egyptian hieroglyphs engraved on all sides. Photographs taken near the time the obelisk was erected in the park show that the inscriptions or hieroglyphs, as depicted below with translation, were still quite legible and date first from Thutmosis III (1479–1425 BC) and then nearly 300 years later, Ramesses II the Great (1279–1213 BC). The stone had stood in the clear dry Egyptian desert air for nearly 3000 years and had undergone little weathering. In a little more than a century in the climate of New York City, pollution and acid rain have heavily pitted its surfaces. In 2010, Dr. Zahi Hawass, sent an open letter to the president of the Central Park Conservancy and the Mayor of New York City insisting on improved conservation efforts. If they are not able to properly care for the obelisk, he has threatened to “take the necessary steps to bring this precious artifact home and save it from ruin.” Wikipedia Commons Photo by Arturo Fernandez
Translation of NYC Central Park Cleopatra’s Needle hierglyphics “Egypt and its Betrayal” by Elbert E. Farman, 1908. Chapters XIV-XV documents the history of the New York City obelisk from its origins to how it came to rest in Central Park. E. E. Farman was the US Consul at Cairo who secured the obelisk for the United States and New York City Graphic from Page 191, Chapter XVII – HISTORY OF OBELISK. Wikipedia Commons
The Paris Needle (“L’aiguille de Cléopâtre”) is in the Place de la Concorde. The centre of the Place is occupied by the giant Egyptian obelisk decorated with hieroglyphs exalting the reign of the pharaoh Ramesses II. Along with its twin (still in situ), it once marked the entrance to the Luxor Temple. The ruler of Egypt and Sudan, Muhammad Ali, presented the 3,300-year-old Luxor Obelisk to France in 1826. Wikipedia Commons Photo by Arturo Fernandez
I couldn’t find any of my photos of Cleopatra’s Needle in London, so I leave you with the next best thing.
Cleopatra’s Needle Wenlock, located in Victoria Embankment Gardens, London. Photo by Arturo Fernandez
To learn more about the obelisks be sure to visit Wikipedia.