The deeds and the legacy of Christopher Columbus have been the subject of no small amount of controversy in the past several decades, but Pittston’s Columbus statue still stands tall and proud.
Modern-day Pittston – depending upon which source you consult – maintains a population of Italian-Americans that is upwards of 30%. It’s hard to imagine that as recently as the late 19th Century and early 20th century, Italians (as well as Irish and others) were subject to prejudice, economic exploitation and even violence in America … but it was sadly the case. In many towns and cities that grew out of the Industrial Revolution (Pittston among them) this created the need for separate social clubs, churches, restaurants and even stores to support the needs of immigrants and their progeny. In my view, the statue is as much a reminder and tribute to the rich Italian cultural heritage of the area as it is a celebration of Christopher Columbus in particular.
The text from the statue’s base:
The officers, members, and friends of the Columbus League of Luzerne County, with appropriate ceremonies on October 12, 1969, dedicated this statue to all the Italian immigrants who ever lived and worked in the Greater Pittston Community and who contributed so greatly in the first half of the Twentieth Century to the growth and progress of this city. COLUMBUS LEAGUE OF LUZERNE COUNTY -1969
plaque on the side of statue: This statue replaces an earlier statue of Christopher Columbus upon which appeared the following inscription — ERECTED BY THE INICIATIVE OF THE CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS BENEFICIAL SOCIETY WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE ITALIAN AMERICAN CITIZENS OF PITTSTON AND VICINITY A.D. 1926
SALVATORE BUFALINO PRESIDENT/VITO BIANCO HONORARY PRESIDENT/MICHELE LOQUASTO/ RAFFAELE ANTONIELLO/JOSEPH GUARNIERI/ ATTILIO ZAMPON
As a footnote:
I actually took these pictures last October after meeting-up with some folks in Scranton. By the time that I got to Pittston, the sun was already starting to set and I was in a rush to get to the Joe Palooka Monument and Three-O-Nina the Giant Cow —- click either of those links to see if I made it 🙂