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Column of Jerash map_it

History

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

King Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan presented this 30 foot-high marble column to the New York World’s Fair Corporation and City of New York on the occasion of Jordan’s participation in the New York World’s Fair of 1964-65, held in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

The delicate column, with its modified Corinthian capital, was originally erected in 120 AD by Romans in the ancient Jordanian city of Jerash, then known as Gerasa. Though attributed to the Temple of Artemis in World's Fair brochures and on the engraved plaque, archeological research published in 2015 indicated that the column cannot be from the temple given its size and construction when compared to photographs of the temple's columns in their original position. Though the precise building from which the Column of Jerash originated has not been determined, given the common practice in of reusing columns for reconstruction in Jerash, its historical and political importance remains intact. 

Once a small village under the rule of Greek General Antiochus IV (175-163 BC), Gerasa grew over the next three centuries into a major metropolis under Greek and later Roman occupation. When Roman Syria was reorganized in 63 AD, Gerasa became a free city, and was at its height when the Column of Jerash was built.

The 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, where this column was unveiled in the United States, ambitiously considered the theme of “Man in a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe.” The influence of the Space Age marked the Fair in its design and its function; from posters and T-shirts to the exhibits themselves, an air of progress, new technology, and American optimism pervaded. Most of the 140 pavilions were American-owned, representing major corporations like General Electric, General Motors, IBM, and Pepsi-Cola.

Thirty-six foreign countries did host exhibits at the Fair, however, including Jordan. The Jordanian pavilion was a splendid “multi-peaked-and domed structure with an undulating roof, and surfaced in gold mosaic and shimmering blue glass.” It sat near the Court of the Astronauts, between the pavilions of the United Arabic Republic and Sudan at the site now marked by this column. Inside the pavilion, one could view various religious and physical artifacts from Jordan’s history, including a scale model of the Dome of the Rock, statues of the Three Kings, a Christian crèche, and perhaps the most visited relic of all: one of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This ancient treasure was displayed in a replica of the cave in which it was discovered.

The remarkable gift of the Column of Jerash is a symbol of Jordan’s rich and diverse history and its impact on world culture. It is also the second-oldest antiquity publicly displayed in New York City’s parks.

Column of Jerash Details

  • Location: East of Unisphere
  • Description: Column, plaque set in ground
  • Materials: Marble
  • Dimensions: Plaque H: 30" W: 60"
  • Cast: 120 AD
  • Dedicated: World's Fair, 1964
  • Donor: King Hussein of Jordan
  • Inscription: THIS COLUMN WAS PRESENTED TO/ THE NEW YORK WORLDS FAIR AND THE CITY OF NEW YORK BY/ HIS MAJESTY KING HUSSEIN / OF THE HASHEMITE KINGDOM OF JORDAN/ ON THE OCCASION / OF JORDAN'S PARTICIPATION IN THE FAIR./ THE COLUMN WAS RECEIVED BY THE HONORABLE ROBERT MOSES, PRESIDENT, / NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR 1964-1965 CORPORATION./ THIS IS ONE OF MANY COLUMNS IN A TEMPLE ERECTED BY THE ROMANS/IN 120 A.D./ THAT STOOD IN THE ROMAN CITY OF JERASH, JORDAN./ THE COLUMNS ARE KNOWN AS THE WHISPERING COLUMNS OF JERASH.

Please note, the NAME field includes a primary designation as well as alternate namings often in common or popular usage. The DEDICATED field refers to the most recent dedication, most often, but not necessarily the original dedication date. If the monument did not have a formal dedication, the year listed reflects the date of installation.

For more information, please contact Art & Antiquities at (212) 360-8143

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