The term obelisk was used in the American colonies and early Republic to refer to a slender shaft or pillar with four faces that diminished in width from the base to a pyramidal top. Obelisks were generally made of wood, granite, marble, or, as <span id="Jefferson_cite"></span>[[Thomas Jefferson|Jefferson]] prescribed for his tombstone, "coarse stone" ([[#Jefferson|view text]]). According to <span id="Langley_cite"></span>[[Batty Langley]] in ''New Principles of Gardening'' (1728), they could also be made of [[trellis]] work and covered with climbing plants to give the effect of a living obelisk ([[#Langley|view text]]). Some obelisks were placed upon pedestals that were cube or [[temple]] forms; others rose directly from the ground.
In the designed landscape, the obelisk served two functions: as a garden ornament and as a monument with emblematic significance. Obelisks were important in the designed landscape or [[pleasure garden]] because they punctuated the [[vista]] or provided a place from which to gain a [[view]]. In order to serve these purposes, treatise authors recommended placing obelisks on elevated sites, although this treatment was not always used. Obelisks, which varied in size, were placed either in the center of open spaces or at the terminus of circulation routes. In both cases, they served as focal points. They often appeared in openings where radial sight lines were clear, as indicated by <span id="Callender_cite"></span>[[Hannah Callender]] in her 1762 description of [[Judge William Peters|Judge William Peters's]] estate, [[Belmont (Philadelphia)|Belmont]], near Philadelphia, where she wrote that the [[avenue]] "looks to the obelisk" ([[#Callender|view text]]).
[[File:1835.jpg|thumb|252px|Fig. 2, [[Robert Mills]], "Sketch of the Washington Nat'l. Monumt.," 1845.]]
* <div id="Callender"></div>[[Hannah Callender|Callender, Hannah]], 1762, describing [[Belmont (Philadelphia)|Belmont]], estate of [[Judge William Peters]], near Philadelphia, Pa. (quoted in Vaux 1888: 455) <ref>George Vaux, "Extracts from the Diary of Hannah Callender," ''Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography'', 12 (1888), [https://www.zotero.org/groups/54737/items/itemKey/STWXKSK3 view on Zotero].</ref> [[#Callender_cite|back up to history]]
:“A broad [[walk]] of English Cherry trees leads down to the river. The doors of the house opening opposite admit a [[prospect]] of the length of the garden over a broad gravel [[walk]] to a large handsome [[summer house]] on a [[green]]. From the windows a [[vista]] is terminated by an '''obelisk'''. On the right you enter a [[labyrinth]] of [[hedge]] of low cedar and spruce. In the middle stands a [[statue]] of Apollo. In the garden are [[statue]]s of Diana, Fame and Mercury with [[urn]]s. We left the garden for a [[wood]] cut into [[vista]]s. In the midst is a Chinese [[temple]] for a [[summer house]]. One [[avenue]] gives a fine prospect of the City. . . . Another [[avenue]] looks to the '''obelisk'''.”
<div id="Fig_5"></div>[[File:0482.jpg|thumb|150px|Fig. 5, [[Paul Revere]], "A View of the Obelisk erected under Liberty-Tree in Boston on the Rejoicings for the Repeal of the Stamp Act," 1766. [[#Fig_5_cite|Back up to history]]]]
Changes - History of Early American Landscape Design