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Between 1955 and 2020, this was the location of a 22-foot bronze statue of the city's namesake, Christopher Columbus. The statue was crafted in Pistoia, Italy, by sculptor Edoardo Alfieri. The statue arrived in Columbus on October 10, 1955, and was dedicated on October 12, 1955. At that time, most Americans accepted the narrative of Columbus as a great explorer. For some Italian Americans, the statue and other images and positive references to Columbus stood as a symbol of the role of Italians in the discovery and growth of America. But by the close of the 20th century, a growing desire to remove the statue reflected the tendency for Americans to acknowledge the actions of Columbus in enslaving native peoples and committing acts of violence. In August of 2017, around 150 protesters called on the city to remove this statue. The city chose not to celebrate Columbus Day for the year 2018 and instead focus on veterans. In the summer of 2020, protests for racial equality swept the nation, and many petitions called for the removal of statues. On June 18, 2020, Mayor Andrew Ginther decided to remove the statue despite the objections of the Columbus Piave Club. On July 1, 2020, the statue was removed and placed in storage, awaiting a decision from city leaders about it fate.

  • The unveiling of the Christopher Columbus Statue on October 12, 1955 outside of City Hall.
  • The Christopher Columbus Statue that stood outside of the Columbus City Hall from October of 1955 until July of 2020.
  • Plaque that was located on the statue’s base.
  • The Christopher Columbus Statue being removed on Wednesday, July 1, 2020.
  • “RAPIST” spray-painted onto the base of the statue on June 17, 2020.

Edoardo Alfieri’s 22 ft. Bronze sculpture titled, “Christopher Columbus,” or “Columbus,” was built at the Micheluccio Foundry in Pistoia, Italy, for $16,000. The three-ton statue depicts Columbus wearing a cloak and holding a rolled document in his right hand while his left-hand lies on his chest. The sculpture celebrated Christopher Columbus and his five voyages to what he believed was Asia but would be referred to by his contemporaries as "The New World."

The statue was a gift from the citizens of Genoa, Italy, the city where Columbus was born. The statue was shipped from Genoa to Columbus on the Italian liner titled, “Cristoforo Columbo,” and unboxed outside of the City Hall in Columbus, Ohio, on October 10, 1955. The statue’s dedication became the main attraction for the city’s Columbus Day celebration as 100,000 people gathered for it’s unveiling. The statue was located on the south side of City Hall on West Broad Street.

At the unveiling of the statue, a 20-inch-crack was found but the damage was not repaired until 1979. When the repair was taking place, a copper time capsule was uncovered. Inside, they found a railroad bill for shipment of the statue. The statue became a part of the Smithsonian Institution’s “Save Outdoor Sculpture!” program in 1992 to preserve and document outdoor art in the United States.

In recent decades, a growing number of citizens called for the removal of the statue. In August of 2017, around 150 protesters rallied outside of the Christopher Columbus statue. The protesters emphasized their belief that the lionization of Columbus presented a false narrative that failed to account for the actions of Columbus and his men as they enslaved, killed, and colonized Native Americans. Counter-protesters equated removal to the erasure of history, while those who called for removal countered that they did not want people to forget about Columbus, they simply did not want to honor him anymore. Mayor Andrew Ginther announced in 2017 what he hoped would be a compromise that would settle the controversy. Ginther announced his decision to keep the statue but distance the city from association with its namesake. He also announced that the city would focus on the healing the racial divide in Columbus.

The 2020 protests in response to the killing of George Floyd led to a national movement that coalesced around Confederate statues and other symbols that protesters viewed as celebrating the actions of men who committed acts of violence against African Americans and Native Americans. On June 17, the sculpture was vandalized with the word “Rapist” painted across the base. Along with the vandalism, a petition circulated to remove the statue outside of Columbus City Hall. The petition explicitly stated that removing the sculpture is not about erasing history, but rather to educate residents with his full history and why their city was named after Columbus. Ginther announced on June 18 that the statue would be removed and replaced with artwork that demonstrates the city's fight to end racism. 

The Columbus Piave Club protested the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue, claiming that the Italian community saw the statue as one of inclusion. Other residents of Italian descent countered this by stating that they wanted no association with Columbus. The city had celebrated every Columbus Day since 1955, and for many residents, the end of these celebrations was experienced as a loss of tradition. A lawsuit was filed by a Columbus citizen named Michael Young, in hopes to stop the removal of the statue after a public hearing. The public hearing didn’t take place, and instead, the Columbus Art Commission approved the mayor’s order to remove the Christopher Columbus Statue on June 24, 2020. On July 1, 2020, the Christopher Columbus Statue was removed and placed in storage. The Columbus Art Commission announced that when the time comes, the public will have a chance to choose what art replaces the statue and who the artist will be. 

Brown, Steve. "Christopher Columbus Statue Removed From Columbus City Hall." WOSU Radio | 89.7 NPR News and Classical 101. Last modified July 1, 2020.

"Christopher Columbus Statues Fall in Other Cities, Remain Intact in Ohio." Last modified June 18, 2020.

"Christopher Columbus, (sculpture)." SIRIS - Smithsonian Institution Research Information System. Accessed July 6, 2020.!siartinventories&uri=full=3100001~!315037~!0#focus.

"Christopher Columbus." Tour Builder | Build Mobile Walking Tours - PocketSights. Accessed July 6, 2020.

"Columbus Art Commission Approves Mayor's Order to Remove Christopher Columbus Statue." Last modified June 24, 2020.

Garbarek, Ben. "Protest at City Hall Calls for Removal of Columbus Statue." WSYX. Last modified August 20, 2017.

"Lawsuit Filed to Stop Removal of Christopher Columbus Statue Outside City Hall." Last modified June 18, 2020.

"Sign the Petition." Accessed July 6, 2020.

"Uncrating Christopher Columbus, 1955." The Columbus Dispatch. Accessed July 6, 2020.

WSYX/WTTE. "City of Columbus to Remove Christopher Columbus Statue Outside City Hall." WSYX. Last modified June 18, 2020.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

"Christopher Columbus Statue Dedication at City Hall, 90 W Broad St in 1955." Columbus Neighborhoods. Last modified August 1, 2013.

"Christopher Columbus Statues Fall in Other Cities, Remain Intact in Ohio." Last modified June 18, 2020.

Another Believer. "Columbus, Ohio (2018)." Wikimedia Commons. n.d.

Brown, Steve. "Christopher Columbus Statue Removed From Columbus City Hall." WOSU Radio | 89.7 NPR News and Classical 101. Last modified July 1, 2020.

WSYX/WTTE. "City of Columbus to Remove Christopher Columbus Statue Outside City Hall." WSYX. Last modified June 18, 2020.