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New York City statue being removed, but it's not Christopher Columbus

New York City statue being removed, but it's not Christopher Columbus

The monument to Christopher Columbus in Columbus Circle on the Upper West Side. The city chose to keep it there after a 90-day review that included public hearings held in every borough.

The recommendations were made by members of the Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers, who held five public meetings in the five boroughs late past year.

A city commission has made a decision to keep a controversial statue of Christopher Columbus that towers over Columbus Circle, officials announced Thursday.

The city will aim to "add context" to the marker and recommended removing the name "Canyon of Heroes" because it "mischaracterizes the installation as a celebration of heroic figures who, in some cases, do not reflect contemporary values of New York City".

Among the statues and monuments that came under scrutiny was the statue of Christopher Columbus that stands above Columbus Circle; a plaque in lower Manhattan for Henri Philippe Petain, considered a Nazi collaborator; and a Central Park statue of Dr. J. Marion Sims, who operated on slave women to develop advances in gynecological surgery. Citing the lack of contextual relevance for the statue's current site the commission voted to relocate it to Green-Wood cemetery, where Sims is buried. "Reckoning with our collective histories is a complicated undertaking with no easy solution".

The mayor added that the city's approach "will focus on adding detail and nuance to - instead of removing entirely - the representations of these histories". The commission says the city should keep the plaque and all other markers in place but "explore opportunities to add context such as wayfinding, on-site signage, and historical information about the people for whom parades were held".

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Citing the "layered legacies" of each of the items under review, the commission's report recommended a number of changes for several other highly public monuments, which the mayor has already signed off on. The creation of the commission was sparked by a nationwide effort to remove monuments to Confederate figures in public spaces.

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island, Brooklyn, ) who unsuccessfully challenged de Blasio previous year, called the city's decision "a victory for Italian-Americans and those who appreciate his contributions and recognize the explorer represents the immigrant experience".

The statue of Theodore Roosevelt in front of the American Museum of Natural History.

The report is the result of three formal meetings by members of the Commission as well as five public hearings conducted in each borough.

"I did not participate in it much", he told The Post. "The excuse that it's too hard is absurd and sends the wrong message". Notably, the commission includes in its recommendations that the city create an Indigenous Peoples Day, although sentiment was divided on whether it should replace Columbus Day, as many activists have long demanded - and an alternative many other cities have already chosen. I don't think so. "To confront this legacy in accordance with the principle of Historical understanding, the Commission feels that the City must take significant action to reframe the narrative presented in the monument".


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