This is a short documentary about the curious alignments of a few Masonic Obelisks in New York City. A transcript of the work in progress is below. Google Earth has since updated the geometry for Cleopatra’s Needle in Central Park without the scaffolding.
Recently after hearing a myth about the alignment of New York City masonic obelisks, I was inspired to create a route via google earth down to the foot to better see it.
First a little background on the obelisks and their history.
So if you go downtown in NYC you’ll find St Paul’s chapel which was built in 1764 and is the oldest continuously occupied structure in NYC.
Within the churchyard is the Emmet obelisk that is the grave marker for Thomas Addis from 1827.
He was born in Ireland in 1764 and was a supporter of Irish Independence. He was jailed by the British and his Brother Robert was actually executed for leading the 1803 rebellion there. After he emigrated from Ireland he became a successful lawyer and was the NY State Attorney General briefly in 1812.
The obelisk was built in the 1830s, and supposedly has coordinates etched in the stone, although they are known to be slightly off. There are certain speculations that Thomas Addis Emmet was to be reinterred from a vault on St Marks to St Paul’s but his remains were never moved.
There is also reportedly a chamber beneath the obelisk but nothing in the space.
Now if you go uptown to 23rd street right beside Madison Square Park and the Flatiron building you’ll find the Worth Obelisk.
This was built for the war hero General William Jenkins Worth who is entombed under the structure.
Worth Street in Manhattan was named after him as well as Ft. Worth in Texas. He fought in the battle of 1812 but died of cholera in San Antonio in 1849 during the Mexican American War.
Reliefs show the various battles General was in and there is a time capsule in the cornerstone of the monument.
In 1848 Worth was approached by Cuban Freemasons called the Havana Club who wanted to overthrow the Colonial government there.
He was temporarily interred in Greenwood cemetery but then moved after the Obelisk and tomb were built. A procession of 6500 soldiers and a speech from the mayor took place when he was put into the tomb in 1857.
The monument was built by James G Batterson. Batterson was contracted by Abraham Lincoln to build the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. He also constructed the Masonic Temple in New York City which is a block away on 6th Ave.
Cleopatra’s Needle / Central Park Obelisk
If you go all the way up to Central Park you’ll find the third obelisk of this set called Cleopatra’s needle. It is by far the oldest standing structure in New York city and had a arduous journey to get here.
The obelisk is about thirty five hundred years old and was created on the orders of the pharaoh Thutmose III (thut-mos-a) . It once stood with a similar one that is now in London. Some of the Hieroglyphs were added 300 years after the obelisk was created and are dedicated to Ramses II.
Cleopatra wasn’t responsible for the Obelisk as it already existed for a thousand years before she was born.
The Romans moved them in 18 AD to Alexandria where they were eventually toppled and buried in the sand. This ironically preserved their carvings.
The one in Central Park is made of solid red granite and is over 69 feet high weighing about 224 tons.
Moving the obelisk started in 1877 when it was given to the US in exchange for funds to modernize Egypt. Henry Honychurch Gorringe was hired to transport the massive stone by ship from Alexandria. It had to be tilted horizontally and then slid into a ship’s hull through a hole.
After arriving in New York in July 1880 it was hauled by a team of 32 horses from the Hudson River to the east side of Central Park. From there is was put on top of a specially built railroad trestle and brought into the park via steam engine. It took a total of 112 days to move the Obelisk through New York, and over three years from Alexandria.
The movement of monument through the streets of New York took so long, about a block a day, that temporary shacks to sell candy to onlookers were moved along with the slow procession.
As the word spread, guards were also installed to watch over the obelisk in transit as treasure hunters with hammers were constantly trying to chisel off keepsakes.
Its final spot at Grewwacke Knoll in the park seems arbitrary at first, but was close to the recently constructed Metropolitain Museum of Art. The transportation and raising of the Obelisk was mostly financed by William Henry Vanderbilt who chose the location specifically.
A parade of 9000 Freemasons went up Fifth Ave for the full Masonic cornerstone ceremony on October 2nd 1880. Fifty thousand spectators lined this route.
The Central Park Obelisk is on top of boxes containing items from the late 1880s including a copy of the Declaration of Independence, a 1870s census, a set of military medals, the complete works of Shakespeare, coins, a hydraulic pump, and a guide to Egypt and Masonic emblems.
There is also apparently a secret box that contains objects that were only known by the man who transported and raised the stone. When it was moved from Alexandria it was believed to be with items such as a perfect ashlar stone, a trowel, and a diamond-shaped aperture.
The Obelisk was recently restored in 2014 that remediated the effects of pollution and weather for over 134 years in New York. This was done with a laser.
Another interesting alignment in the route, is the main branch of the public library on 5th avenue and 42nd street. This was not the structure at that location in the 19th century.
The Croton Distributing Reservoir was connected to the city’s aqueduct system in 1842 and was demolished in the late 1890s. The reservoir was constructed when midtown was practically farmland.
It was a massive structure standing 50 feet high, with 25 foot think walls which held 20 million gallons of fresh water. It was also designed in an Egyptian motif which was inherently masonic.
With the route I created you can see that the three obelisks line up with great accuracy. The order in which the obelisks were added is curious as well. Particularly that the placement of Cleopatra’s needle. Which leaves one to conclude that it’s placement was intentional.