A photo of the statue in its previous location, Columbus Plaza at Arctic Avenue and Christopher Columbus Boulevard. The statue was recently moved to the area in front of the Nike Outlet Store at the terminus of the Atlantic City Expressway, to make room for the development of the Bass Pro Shops building.
Born Genoa, Italy 1451
Died Valladolid, Spain 1506
Atlantic City has long been home to a rich Italian community in its Ducktown section. Some time in the 1920s, this community formed the Columbus Day Committee out of 23 local Italian-American organizations, with the purpose of organizing events and celebrations each year for Columbus Day. In 1937, this committee, with the help of the St. Michael's Church's parish community, succeeded in naming a plot of nearby land "Columbus Plaza" to commemorate the famous Italian explorer. In the mid-1950s, however, this tribute from the city's Italian community came under threat, as the city was in talks to turn the plaza into a parking lot. Mayor Joseph Altman suggested that the plaza would be spared if it contained a more prominent feature, such as a statue. The Columbus Day Committee set to work. Funds were raised, and a contract for the statue was awarded to the Italian sculpting firm and quarry of Gennaro Chiurazzi. The statue was sculpted primarily by artist Gaetano Chiaromonte in Italy before being dismantled into sections. It was then shipped to Atlantic City, where it was reassembled to take its place in Columbus Plaza.
The statue of Christopher Columbus stands 8 feet tall, upon a 9-foot base - 17 feet high in total. It is sculpted of marble, and was dedicated in 1958 as a gift from the Italian community to Atlantic City. It was seen by the community's members as a symbol of friendship between Italy and the United States, and also one of faith, as Bishop McCarthy told the crowd at its unveiling that Christopher Columbus's "competence and determination were largely due to his trust in God." Originally, the statue of Columbus faced the Atlantic Ocean, as if to gaze upon the land he had sailed from.
In 1991, the statue was refurbished after a man climbed onto it and broke off its left arm. When the terminus of the Atlantic City Expressway was reconfigured in the 1990s, the statue was briefly moved to the All Wars Memorial Park at Providence Avenue and O'Donnell Parkway. It was returned to a modified Columbus Plaza in 1998, where it now stands to greet tourists entering the city from the highway.
For more information, see articles from:
Atlantic City Press, April 30, 1998, April 10, 1996, October 13, 1958, October 8, 1958, and June 30, 1957