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The Obelisk is the oldest man-made object in the Park & the city’s oldest outdoor monument.
Nicknamed Cleopatra’s Needle, this Egyptian obelisk was erected in Central Park in 1881. It is one of a pair of obelisks that were commissioned for Heliopolis in Egypt on the banks of the Nile around 1450 BC by an Egyptian pharaoh celebrating his 30 years of reign. The monuments were then moved to Alexandria, Egypt in 18AD and set up in the Caesareum – a temple built by Cleopatra in honor of Mark Antony or Julius Caesar.They remained there until one obelisk was moved to London in 1878. The second one was erected two years later in Central Park. Transferring the 69-foot, 220-ton granite monument from Egypt to New York was a difficult and delicate process. It took 112 days from the time the Obelisk arrived at the banks of the Hudson River until it reached the Park. Thousands turned out to watch on the day the obelisk was turned upright. A time capsule was buried beneath the Obelisk and included: the Bible, the complete works of Shakespeare, a guide to Egypt, a facsimile of the Declaration of Independence, an 1870 U.S. census and Webster’s Dictionary. Made of red granite the Obelisk weighs about 200 tons! The Obelisk landscape is particularly beautiful in spring when the monument is surrounded by flowering magnolias and crabapple trees.
Location: East Side at 81st Street.