Nearly 40 years after its design, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island opened to the public on Wednesday, Oct. 24.
The newest memorial state park is dedicated to the four essential human freedoms that President Roosevelt outlined in his 1941 State of the Union address, also known as the “Four Freedoms” speech: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.
“It will stand forever as a monument to the man who brought us through the Great Depression and brought us victory over great evil,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at the park’s dedication ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 17.
Bloomberg added that Roosevelt’s four freedoms represent more than a symbol of a past but rather form a challenge to the present that people must shape.
“We hope visitors of different ages will understand that the four freedoms are the core values of democracy and that each generation has to be sure to protect them,” said former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. William vanden Heuvel, chairman of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park Limited Liability Company.
The park spans four acres across the southern part of Roosevelt Island, which is located on the East River between Manhattan and Queens. A set of steps ascend to a triangular lawn lined with trees, narrowing to a bronze bust of Roosevelt. A quote from his “Four Freedoms” speech is engraved behind the bust, opening to a square that overlooks the East River.
“I encourage New Yorkers to visit Four Freedoms Park and learn about the remarkable life, work and vision of President Roosevelt, from his time as governor leading the Empire State to his steady hand guiding our nation as president,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Architect Louis I. Kahn originally designed the park in 1973, but plans for the park were dropped the following year when the city was in the midst of a financial crisis. The construction of the park resumed in 2005 with the emergence of “My Architect,” a documentary about Kahn.
“The total budget for the park including construction and start-up costs was $53.6 million,” said Randy Simons, public information officer for New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
This presidential memorial is meaningful for people of all ages.
CAS sophomore Jessica Rothwell, who is studying anthropology and politics, said she thinks it is fitting that Roosevelt has a park named after him.
“One of the programs he founded with the New Deal, the Civilian Conservation Corps, helped not only keep people employed but construct hundreds of parks all over the United States.” Rothwell said. “As well as updating most of the pre-existing state parks.”
Caroline Gill, an LSP sophomore said she would visit the park.
“I think it is overdue but still an honorable gesture for a very honorable man,” said Gill. “He set a higher standard for the presidents that proceeded him.”
Tricia Lin is a staff writer. Email her at email@example.com.
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