If the New Orleans City Council votes to remove four controversial monuments from public display, at least one reminder is likely to remain: the pillar that supports a bronze statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee 60 feet above Lee Circle.Maybe just leave it that way for a while. An empty pedestal makes a kind of statement.
That word comes in an updated report to the City Council by Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin.
The report also increases the estimated cost of removing the monuments, which Kopplin has said will be paid by an anonymous donor, by $18,000. The new estimate, including a 10 percent contingency fee, puts the price tag at about $144,400.
In the late 1940s, Egypt’s King Farouk had a huge granite pedestal erected in the middle of Tahrir’s wide traffic circle. The pedestal was intended for a statue of Farouk’s grandfather and the square’s namesake, khedive Ismail. The statue took longer to produce than the pedestal, however, and when the statue of Ismail finally arrived to Egypt in the summer of 1952, it was too late — the monarchy had been overthrown.
The empty pedestal nonetheless remained in place for decades, as a colossal reminder of the failure of Egypt’s monarchy. After Gamal Abdul Nasser’s death in 1970, there was talk of finally placing on the pedestal a statue of the fallen president, but that idea never materialised either. The pedestal was finally removed in the mid-1970s during construction of the Cairo Metro.