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Columbus Square

Columbus Triangle

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This triangle, like so many sites in New York and around the country, honors Christopher Columbus (1451-1506), whose discoveries have been celebrated for more than 500 years.

The City acquired this land on July 19, 1910, and since the 1920s Italian-Americans of Queens have gathered here to celebrate Columbus. The Board of Aldermen, on April 1, 1930, named the site for the famed explorer. The Italian Chamber of Commerce installed a bronze tablet here on October 12, 1937, indicating its intention to build a full monument to Columbus. In 1938, with funds from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), Italian sculptor Angelo Racioppi was commissioned to create the seven foot tall bronze of a youthful Christopher Columbus standing in front of a ship’s tiller.

At the unveiling event on Columbus Day, 1941, master of ceremonies Alexander DelGiornio welcomed 5,000 people, including Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia and Borough President George U. Harvey, to the event organized by Nick Morisco. While the statue was complete, no funding existed for a stone base. Due to the recycling frenzy driven by the need to make weapons for World War II, residents feared that their pedestal-less statue might be scrapped, so they hid it in the basement of Queens Borough Hall. Raising the necessary money after the war, the monument was permanently installed at the apex of the triangle.

From the late 1940s until the 1960s, local officials, including Queens Borough President Mario Carrillo, organized Queens Columbus Day celebrations here. Interest waned till 1972 when local Italian American leaders Anthony Gazzara, Vincent Iannece, Philip Cicciariello, Thomas Bullaro, Giacomo Panessa, and Salvatore Marino met here to combine their individual social clubs – each representing the various Italian towns and provinces they had come from - into an umbrella organization that would reinstate the festivities. Now called the Federation of Italian American Organizations of Queens, Inc, (FIAOQ), the group organizes the Queens County Columbus Parade, which terminates at this park every year.

The site is now called a triangle to better reflect the actual shape of the park. On October 10, 1992, the FIAOQ erected a flagpole with yardarm on this site in honor of the 500th Anniversary of Columbus’ voyage. This pole proudly flies the U.S., New York City and Parks flags all year, as well as the Italian flag during the Columbus Day weekend.

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