In 1934, a monument featuring a statue of Christopher Columbus was gifted to the City of Syracuse by the local Italian American community and was placed in St. Mary’s Circle, which henceforth became known as Columbus Circle.
The monument was intended to celebrate pride in their Italian heritage, their strong connection to America, and their many contributions to our community. It also represented a demonstration of resilience in the face of decades of oppression and discrimination experienced by Italian Americans here.
Over time, a more holistic view of Columbus’s landfall, and the resulting European contact, conquest, and colonization of the Americas entered the public consciousness. As the devastating and lingering impacts of the landfall on Native Americans, people of color, and other marginalized populations became more widely recognized, a shift in perceptions began to evolve.
The statue that had been intended, and served, as a symbol of pride for almost ninety years had gradually become controversial and viewed by many as a symbol of oppression.
Almost three years of community dialogue led to the stated desire to celebrate our community’s rich diversity and to acknowledge its history of oppression. The recommendation for the site to recognize the wonderful contributions to our richly diverse community by those who have been oppressed, or experience oppression, resulted in the genesis of Heritage Park.