When planning your vacation to the Big Apple, you will be shocked at the number of things you can do and sights you can see. There are many attractions to visit while enjoying your Central Park bike tour. However, by far one of the oldest you can visit is the Obelisk. This unique ancient monument is just west of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If you aren’t sure why you should pay it a visit on your Central Park bike tour, consider the following.
Oldest Outdoor Monument in New York
It arrived in February of 1881, a gift from the Khedive because the U.S. stayed neutral while Britain and France moved to take control of the Egyptian government. This 69-foot high, 220-ton monument is comprised of granite. It made an arduous journey to get here from London back in 1878.
If you visited the Obelisk before the 1990s, it’s a good idea to do so again. The Conservancy has actively restored the monument by cleaning it up and landscaping. They also added new lighting, new paving, and new benches. They spent significant time conserving and cleaning the monument.
This effort revealed hieroglyphs among a dramatic granite surface hidden by the pollution and dirt that accumulated over the decades. Spring is a perfect time to visit, as the crab apples and magnolias are in full bloom, so if you have the option, plan to take your Central Park bike tour then.
The Time Capsule
One of the most fascinating Obelisk facts you will learn when you take your Central Park bike tour is that there is a time capsule buried beneath the monument. The small box is said to contain a Bible, 1870 U.S. Census, complete works of Shakespeare, Webster’s Dictionary, a guide to Egypt, and a copy of the Declaration of Independence. The man who orchestrated getting the Obelisk to Central Park placed the box here. He is likely to be the only one to know its true contents for years to come.
1 of 3 True Egyptian Obelisks Located Outside of Egypt
Another reason to visit the Obelisk on your Central Park bike tour is the fact that it is one of three outside of Egypt. There are three obelisks that are nicknamed Cleopatra’s Needle: one each in Paris, London, and New York. The two in London and New York were made during the Pharaoh Thutmose III 18th Dynasty. Meanwhile, the third was created during the Pharaoh Ramesses II 19th Dynasty. The nickname is not accurate, as all three were made up a thousand years before Cleopatra’s time. New York’s needle was the first to gain the nickname in French, “L’aiguille de Cleopatre,” which means Cleopatra’s Needle, while it was still in Alexandria.