Photos by Victor M. Rodriguez
School kids of a certain generation well remember this little ditty, resurfacing around October 12 of every year: “In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” That may very well be true, but statues of Columbus have not fared well in the twenty-first century.
Native Americans and others charge that Columbus’s arrival in the “New World” sparked the transatlantic slave trade and ushered in an era of genocide against indigenous people. Italian Americans counter that Columbus was akin to an astronaut landing on the moon and that Italian Americans in the 19th century, when Columbus came to prominence, suffered deep prejudice of their own.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio considered removing the city’s “symbols of hate,” most famously the statue of Columbus in Columbus Circle. But after creating a statue commission to discover which of the city’s many statues were culpable, he bowed to pressure from Italian Americans and others, and left old Chris to stand guard over the rotary traffic on 59th Street.
Hudson County has its share of Christopher Columbus statues, which so far have withstood the test of time and tumult.
According to our crack research team, North Bergen and Weehawken do not have statues of Christopher Columbus. And who is this Archimedes Giacomantonio who’s responsible for three of the Columbus statues?
Wikipedia to the rescue: “Archimedes Giacomantonio (1905 – 1988) was a nationally renowned sculptor, born in Jersey City to Italian immigrant parents. He learned the art of sculpting as an apprentice to the world-famous Neapolitan sculptor Vincenzo Gemito. Over the course of 50 years, he designed major works in Jersey City, Washington D.C., and public and private spaces in cities across the country.”—Kate Rounds