ST. LOUIS — A statue of Christopher Columbus in one of St. Louis’ most popular parks has been removed.
Tower Grove Park announced on Tuesday morning that it would be taking down the Columbus statue. Shortly after the announcement, the statue was being removed by crews.
There were about two dozen people watching as crews removed the statue.
The statue had been in the park for 140 years.
This comes as there's a nationwide push to take down controversial statues -- including Christopher Columbus. Statues across the country have been defaced and destroyed.
Last week, there was a petition circulating with more than 1,000 signatures to take down the statue in Tower Grove Park.
STATUE REMOVED TUESDAY MORNING
Full statement from Tower Grove Park
“Tower Grove Park celebrates the diversity of our community every day and serves as the centerpiece of the region’s most vibrant neighborhoods. When a statue of Christopher Columbus was placed in the park 140 years ago, its purpose was to celebrate the contributions of immigrants in this region. But now, for many, it symbolizes a historical disregard for indigenous peoples and cultures and destruction of their communities.
In order to ensure a safe, inclusive and pleasant environment for park visitors and team members alike, the Park’s Board of Commissioners has authorized the removal of the Columbus statue to begin the week of June 15. By taking this action, Tower Grove Park reaffirms its commitment to being a place of welcome, and to caring for the people’s park in the best way possible.”
It's unclear where the statue will be taken to.
Statement from The Italian Community of St. Louis on the statue removal:
"The Italian Community of St Louis, the only association which represents Italian citizens in St Louis, is officially neutral on the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue. While many in our community applaud its removal, there are some who do not. The Italian Community of St. Louis stands with Black Lives during these trying times and urges dialogue on all sides. We know that Columbus has been a controversial figure and we apologize for the hurt that this man has caused. There are many other Italian figures who would better represent Italians in St. Louis."
An event on Facebook that was scheduled for June 23, 'Remove Columbus from Tower Grove Park,' had more than 2,000 people that were interested in attending.
There have been several efforts over the years for the park to remove the statue. In 2018, the Tower Grove Park Board of Commissioners decided to keep it up. Signs and markers were added to discuss the historical context.
MORE ABOUT THE STATUE
According to the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, Ferdinand Von Miller II was the artist behind the statue. It was the first Christopher Columbus statue to be constructed in the United States. Henry Shaw was the donor of the statue.
Shaw and Miller II were both detail-oriented men and argued over whether Columbus would have worn a beard, the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis said. Shaw insisted that the statue have one, even though the sculptor’s research indicated that Genoese sailors of that time were beardless. In the end both men got their way. Columbus is depicted with a full beard.