elorza providence

Mayor Elorza Announces Removal of Christopher Columbus Statue

Future Actions to be advised by the Special Committee for Commemorative Works


PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today announced the City will be removing the Christopher Columbus statue from its current location in the Elmwood neighborhood until a final determination on the statue’s future can be advised by the Special Committee for Commemorative Works.

“We want our community’s voice centered in the decisions made around the memorials, historical markers and monuments that represent our city,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “These works should reflect the vibrancy of our neighborhoods and be a source of pride for the residents who live within them. Through this Committee, we are allowing the community to take an active role in shaping these decisions and hope that through future projects, we can better reflect the collective memory of our beautiful city in these landmarks.”

The Special Committee for Commemorative Works, proposed this past November and recently approved by the City Council, aims to engage residents in evaluating historical works across the City; assessing applications for the creation of new commemorative works; and reviewing the modification, relocation, or deaccession of an existing commemorative works. The Committee is comprised of six individuals who will work to synthesize these discussions on the future of the Christopher Columbus statue and advise the Board of Parks Commissioners, who will make a final determination. This Committee builds on policy recommendations brought forth by the Art in City Life Plan: A Public Art Initiative for the City of Providence.

In April 2018, the City of Providence unveiled the Art in City Life Plan to establish a vision and administrative policies for the City’s public art initiative. As part of that planning process, the plan recommended that the City develop a dedicated public process to address the merit of commemorative works in a rigorous and open manner. Based on this recommendation, the Department of Art, Culture and Tourism developed the Special Committee for the Review of Commemorative Works. The Department also worked with Emma Boast and students from Brown University’s John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage to research best practices and develop recommendations about the process.