100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Columbus Memorial Unveiled In Washington DC

In 1906 the Italian fraternal organization Knights of Columbus began lobbying for a Christopher Columbus Memorial for Washington DC. In March 1907 the US Congress approved $100,000 towards the project which would be augmented by monies from the city and donations. A commission decided on Union Station in Washington DC as the location and sought designs from artists from the US, Spain and Italy “…it should be from the hand of an American, the land which Columbus gave to the world; from an Italian, the land which gave Columbus to the world, or from Spain, the land which made Columbus’s achievement possible.” Larado Taft of Illinois was chosen. Construction began in October 1911 and the piece was installed from March–June 1912.

On June 2, 1912 the Columbus Memorial fountain was unveiled at Union Station in Washington DC. President Taft also provided the formal address.It was presided over by Secretary of State Philander Knox with notable participants such as Chief Justice Victor J Dowling, Italian Ambassador Cusania Confalonieri, Archbishop Bonzano, and other Catholic church notables. The front of the fountain bears a full-length portrait of Christopher Columbus. Beneath him is a ship prow that features a winged figurehead that represents the observation of discovery. A globe representing the Western hemisphere is on top with four eagles on each corner connected by garland. The right side figure is an elderly man, representing the Old World, and on the let side is a figure of a Native American, representing the New World. A formal dedication ceremony is planned for June 8th with 15,000 troops from the Navy and Marines. 50,000 Knights of Columbus representatives, and a parade with themed floats followed by 2,000 cars.

The unveiling of the Columbus Memorial fountain Union Station Washington DC – June 2, 1912


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