Thames and Obelisk London England about 1892

THAMES EMBANKMENT AND OBELISK LONDON — One of the greatest recent improvements in the World’s Metropolis is its embankment along the Thames. The wall next the river is of granite and is backed with solid masonry eight feet thick and forty feet high. This makes a handsome driveway 100 feet in width, lighted by gas, planted with trees, and having several landing-piers for the river steamers. One of the most remarkable relics of antiquity which the world possesses stands now upon this river-thoroughfare. It is the Egyptian Obelisk, popularly known as “Cleopatra’s Needle,” which was, however, hewn from the primitive volcanic granite 1500 years before that “Siren of the Nile” ever ensnared by her beauty Caesar and Marc Antony. To convey this from Alexandria to England, as was done in 1877, proved a very expensive and difficult undertaking. Even after it had been successfully embarked at Alexandria, the little iron vessel which had been specially prepared for it was shipwrecked and temporarily abandoned in the Bay of Biscay. A passing steamer rescued it and towed it into the harbor of Ferrol on the Spanish coast. Thence it was conveyed to the Thames, and finally was erected here where it now stands in triumph. Yet one can hardly look upon this symbol of the sun’s bright rays, here in this city of fogs and smoke, without regarding this ancient monolith as an exile from a land where through the entire year the sky is rarely darkened by a cloud. Nevertheless, like many illustrious exiles, its sojourn on the Thames embankment will no doubt be of use to those who gaze upon its stately form, by reminding them of the power and glory of Ancient Egypt, beside whose awful ruins London seems the creation of yesterday. (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)


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