An High Dynamic Range View of Cleopatra's Needle on a Cloudy Spring Morning in New York City's Central Park

A 69-foot, 3,500-year old granite obelisk has stood in New York City's Central Park for 130 years, and it's never, ever, been cleaned. The ancient pillar is deceptively fragile, and conservationists have been hesitant simply to hose it down. The solution? Blast it with lasers, of course. After careful testing, the Central Park Conservancy determined that a gentle bath of infrared lasers is both the most sensitive and environmentally friendly cleaning method available. The non-profit organization plans to slowly vaporize the monument's modest dust collection over the next several months. Project planners have also uncovered several particularly fragile areas on the obelisk's surface, which will be patched up with granite adhesives. Looking forward to seeing NYC's oldest landmark at its best? You'll have to wait until fall: the restoration is going to take awhile.

[Image credit: Cal Vornberger / Alamy]

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​New York City is cleaning its ancient Egyptian monument with lasers