In the half-century between 1831 and 1881 three massive obelisks left Egypt for new lands. Prior to these journeys, the last large obelisk moved was the Vatican obelisk in 1586 – one of the great engineering achievements of the Renaissance. Roman emperors moved more than a dozen, but left no records of how they did it. The nineteenth-century engineers entrusted with transporting the obelisks across oceans had to invent new methods, and they were far from certain that they would work. As the three obelisks, bound for Paris, London and New York, sailed towards their new homes, the world held its breath. Newspapers reported the obelisks' daily progress, complete with dramatic illustrations of the heroic deeds of the engineers and crews struggling under nearly impossible conditions. When the obelisks finally arrived safely in their new homes, bands played Cleopatra's Needle Waltz and silver obelisk pencils dangled from fashionable ladies' necks.