'Embarking the Obelisk', Alexandria, Egypt, c 1879-1880.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Autotype by Harroun & Bierstadt from 'Egyptian Obelisks' by Henry H Gorringe, (New York, 1882). The obelisk was erected by Thutmose III at Heliopolis in about 1,460 BC, later moved to Alexandria, and then to the USA. Gorringe (1841-1885), a lieutenant-commander in the US Navy, was given the task of sailing the 21-metre 220-ton obelisk from Egypt to New York. The move, costing over $103,000, was financed by William H Vanderbilt. In order to load the obelisk, a large hole was cut in the hull of the iron steamer 'Desoug', shown here. The obelisk was erected in Central Park on 22 January 1881, where it still stands. There is a similar obelisk on the Thames Embankment in London.