has made its way in to the visual vocabulary of almost every world culture. Originating in Heliopolis Egypt, it is thought that they were first used in pairs at the entrance to shrines and temples, similar in concept to Jachin and Boaz. There are only 26 known ancient obelisks still in existence. The Heliopolis Obelisk is the oldest in the world; it is the only remaining obelisk in Heliopolis. These ancient obelisks were admired so by subsequent cultures that most were taken as trophies and moved to other cities in the West. The Obeliscus Vaticanus sits in the middle of the plaza in front of St. Peter's at the Vatican. It is sometimes called the tomb of Caesar because his ashes were once believed to be contained within the sphere on top. In our earliest records of this obelisk, the first Roman Emporor Augustus had it erected in Alexandria. Like only two of the others, it has no hieroglyphics. Because of this, some believe it was not an actual ancient Egyptian obelisk, but a replica made by the Romans. Most of the surviving ancient Egyptian obelisks are now in Rome. There is one ancient obelisk located in New York City, it is known as Cleopatra's Needle. It stands in Central Park. Its companion obelisk, which bears the same name, is located in London.

Throughout history, the Obelisk has been appropriated for use in memorials. The most famous modern example here in the states would be the Washington Monument. Begun in 1848, construction was disrupted by the American Civil War. It was not completed until 1884. The Washington Monument is still the world's tallest obelisk.

When I sought an ideal for a towering monument, the obelisk form was my immediate inspiration. When I searched for a design form both modern and uniquely New York, this led to my Eureka insight that produced my final design concept.


copyright © 2002-2003 Chris Grayson