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Columbus Circle, named for Christopher Columbus, is a major landmark and point of attraction in the New York City borough of Manhattan, located at the intersection of Eighth Avenue, Broadway, Central Park South (West 59th Street), and Central Park West, at the southwest corner of Central Park. It is the point from which all official distances from New York City are measured. The name is also used for the neighborhood a few blocks around the circle in each direction. To the south of the circle lies Hell’s Kitchen, also known as “Clinton”, and the Theatre District, and to the north is the Upper West Side.
Completed in 1905 and renovated a century later, the circle was designed by William P. Eno – a businessman who pioneered many early innovations in road safety and traffic control – as part of Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision for Central Park, which included a “Grand Circle” at the Merchants’ Gate, its most important Eighth Avenue entrance.
The monument at the center of Columbis Circle, created by Italian sculptor Gaetano Russo, was erected as part of New York’s 1892 commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the Americas. Constructed with funds raised by Il Progresso, a New York City-based Italian-language newspaper, the monument consists of a marble statue of Columbus atop a 70-foot (21 m) granite rostral column decorated with bronze reliefs representing Columbus’ ships: the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María. Its pedestal features an angel holding a globe.
Renovations to the circle completed in 2005 included new water fountains by WET, of Fountains of Bellagio fame; wooden benches; and plantings encircling the monument. The inner circle measures approximately 36,000 square feet (3,300 m2), and the outer circle is approximately 148,000 square feet (13,700 m2). The redesign, by the Olin Partnership of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was the recipient of the 2006 American Society of Landscape Architects’ General Design Award Of Honor.