Named in honor of Christopher Columbus, the Columbus Circle maybe just a traffic circle to some but is actually one of New York City?s attractions and a major landmark which employs innovative traffic control and road safety design. William P. Eno, an entrepreneur who introduced these early innovations, designed the Columbus Circle taking into consideration Frederick Law Olmsted?s concept for Central Park, which is to include a "Grand Circle" at the Merchants' Gate, the park?s most significant Eighth Avenue entrance. The circle was completed in 1905 and eventually became the spot from which all official distances from New York City are determined.
The Columbus Circle is situated at the southwest corner of Central Park, intersecting Broadway, Central Park West, Central Park South (also known as 59th Street), and Eighth Avenue. A neighborhood few blocks around the circle also adopted the same name. Neighboring the circle are the Hell?s Kitchen, otherwise known as ?Clinton? and the Theater District to the south, and the Upper West Side to the north.
The most prominent and most important feature of the Columbus Circle is the monument of Christopher Columbus that sits at the center of the circle, created by Italian sculptor Gaetano Russo as part of New York's 1892 commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus' landing in the Americas. The construction of the monument was made possible through the fund raising efforts of a New York City-based Italian-language publication called Il Progresso. The monument is made up of a 70-foot granite rostral column adorned with bronze reliefs symbolizing Columbus' three famous ships: the Ni?a, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. Taking a closer look at the monument?s pedestal, visitors will also notice a sculpted angel holding a globe. This signifies Columbus? global exploration. More importantly, sitting on top of the column is the marble sculpture of Christopher Columbus.
A century after, in 2005, the Columbus Circle was renovated and new water fountains, wooden benches and plantings were added. The Olin Partnership of Philadelphia was responsible for the redesigning of the circle and its new look earned them the 2006 American Society of Landscape Architects? General Design Award of Honor.
Surrounding the Columbus Circle are well-known establishments, structures and skyscrapers like the twin towers of the Time Warner Center, with its modern glass design, which make for a great background. The Trump International Hotel and Tower, with its noted steel globe, makes a visit to the circle more interesting. The Merchant?s Gate of the Central Park, is easily accessible from the Circle. Another famous site found nearby is the address 2 Columbus Circle, the site of the old Pabst Grand Circle Hotel where Actor?s Equity was founded in 1914 and became a controversial development when the hotel was torn down and replaced by a distinctive new tower that housed the Huntington Hartford Gallery of Modern Art and eventually was listed as one of the World Monuments Fund's "100 most endangered sites".
Because of its photographic charm, the Columbus Circle has been used and has appeared in several Hollywood films such as Home Alone 2, The Devil Wears Prada, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Enchanted, I Am Legend, Cloverfield, among others.