Thursday, March 1, 2007

Giovanni da Verrazzano (OMOM Essay 3): Bibliography, Discussion Questions

The New York Times account of the Verrazzano dedication (10/7/1909) is a fascinating reminder of how much technology has changed over the past century. Because no radio, TV or internet offered distractions or instant and continuous replays, the dedication of an outdoor sculpture in New York often drew tens of thousands of spectators. The Times reported that 25,000 marched in the parade to honor Verrazzano, another 200,000 lined the route, and 100,000 eagerly awaited the unveiling of the sculpture at Battery Park.

Italians and Russian Jews were the largest groups in the wave of immigration from 1880 to 1919. To the Italians' pride in their birthplace and in their new city we owe the Columbus at Columbus Circle, Garibaldi in Washington Square, Mazzini in Central Park, Dante near Lincoln Center, and the Verdi Monument at Broadway and 72nd St. (Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan Essay 41)

I love the bluntness of Deputy Mayor Curran's comments on the Henry Hudson sculpture, in progress in 1909 but delayed for years after the premature death of sculptor Karl Bitter, creator of the Carl Schurz Memorial (Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan Essay 51). Curran said, at about the time the sculpture was dedicated:
I took a good look yesterday at the statue of Henry Hudson at Spuyten Duyvil ... It is the ugliest statue in New York, and that is saying a whole lot. The shaft is ugly, the figure is ugly, the whole thing is ugly. A barber pole would be nicer. Now just forget your idea of lighting it up at night. If you could dig a hole at Spuyten Duyvil and let the statue drop into it some night, and then cover it nicely, that would be the best way to handle it. (Quoted by Jewell in the New York Times, 8/21/1938)

Click here for more bibliography on the Verrazzano.

The discusson questions for Verrazzano are on allegorical sculptures and on European explorers and colonization of the Americas.

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