Forget industrial vacuum cleaners, high-pressure water guns or even a simple mop and bucket – New York City is about to go all high-tech to clean its oldest monument, the 3,500-year-old Obelisk in Central Park.
A fair bit of grime has attached itself to the famous monument in the 133 years it’s spent in the Manhattan park, and so the authorities are planning to blast it – albeit in the gentlest way possible – with infrared lasers to vaporize the dirt and get it once again looking spick and span.
The cleaning project is set to be carried out by Central Park Conservancy with assistance from the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The group has spent the last three years preparing for the delicate operation by scanning all 2,112 square feet of the ancient 21-meter-tall granite pillar to discover which parts require the most attention. Repairs will also be carried out on the hieroglyph-inscribed stone slab where necessary.
Starting soon, lasers will be used to burn off the gunk clinging to the monument, with Central Park Conservancy this week reassuring New Yorkers that tests have shown lasers to be the most environmentally friendly method of dealing with the dirt, as well as the most sensitive to the aging stone.
It described the project, which is expected to be completed by the fall, as “the most comprehensive conservation of the monument in nearly 130 years,” adding that it’s set to secure the Obelisk’s long-term preservation.
Situated on the eastern side of the park close to 81st Street, the famous monument – also known as Cleopatra’s Needle – has apparently never seen so much as a damp cloth since arriving in the US from Egypt in 1881.