With an outpouring of public sentiment wishing to have input into monuments citywide, and Women’s History Month upon us, Women.NYC and First Lady Chirlane McCray and former Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen announced the next four monuments as part of She Built NYC, an initiative to honor the trailblazing women who have helped shape New York City while addressing the absence of female statue in our public realm.
The monuments will include Billie Holiday to be near Queen Borough Hall in Queens, Elizabeth Jennings Graham in the Vanderbilt Avenue Corridor near Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, Dr. Helen Rodríguez Trías at St. Mary’s Park in the Bronx, and Katherine Walker at the Staten Island Ferry Landing in Staten Island.
Artist selection for each of these monuments will begin by the end of 2019, with artist selection concluding in the first half of 2020. The monuments will be built throughout 2021 and 2022.
“We cannot tell the story of New York City without recognizing the invaluable contributions of the women who helped build and shape it,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “Public monuments should tell the full history and inspire us to realize our potential – not question our worth. In honoring these four trailblazers today, New Yorkers will have the opportunity to see powerful women who made history receive the recognition they deserve.”
“When we launched She Built NYC, we promised this would not be a ‘one and done,’” said former Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen. “Today’s announcement marks real action by the City of New York to ensure that our public realm exemplifies the diverse and accomplished women who make this city so great.”
“Miss Billie Holiday is one of America’s greatest treasures. I want to thank First Lady Chirlane McCray and Former Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen for honoring her. Musically she influenced almost every singer of jazz and popular music including Frank Sinatra. Ms. Holiday was not one to shy away from controversy, brilliantly singing Strange Fruit a song written about the horrific lynchings in the South. Lady Day will always be remembered for integrating white swing bands and taking a stand against racism in America. She deserves a place in history!” said Robin Bell-Steven, Director of Jazzmobile.
“The people and groups we celebrate in our public art should reflect the rich diversity and cultural history that has made New York City such an extraordinary place,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “By honoring these four remarkable women New Yorkers, She Built NYC is taking important steps toward a fuller telling of our city’s dynamic story through public monuments. We look forward to the upcoming community engagement and artist selection processes, bringing New Yorkers together to help preserve these legacies and what they represent for generations to come.”
“Elizabeth Jennings Graham was a trailblazer—a Black woman whose case led to the desegregation of all New York City transportation,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I am so proud that her statue will stand in Grand Central Station for all New Yorkers to visit and pay homage to the women who helped shape New York City into the city that we know and love today.”
The four new monuments will be commissioned through the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Art process, which requires that one percent of the budget for eligible City-funded construction projects be spent on public artwork. This inclusive process builds community engagement and input into the artist selection and artwork design process. The construction of these monuments will be funded through the $10 million the Department of Cultural Affairs has committed over the next four years to commissioning new permanent public monuments and commemorations.
Below are monuments dedicated to women currently found in our parks and public places.
But before we get started, we were pleased to read in an October 16, 2019 press release that The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) has selected Amanda Matthews/Prometheus Art to construct a Nellie Bly Monument on the northern end of Roosevelt Island in Lighthouse Park.
The sculptural installation will be known as “The Girl Puzzle“, and invites the viewer to experience many facets of Nellie Bly’s talent, conviction and compassion. The ground-breaking journalist and women’s rights advocate exposed the horrors of the Blackwell Island Insane Asylum in 1887 on Roosevelt Island. A rendering has not yet been made public. Construction of the installation is scheduled to be completed in Summer 2020.
Gertrude Stein in Bryant Park
A monument to Gertrude Stein was installed in Bryant Park, right behind the New York Public Library, in 1992. Its placement reflects Stein’s significant literary contributions. The seated bronze figure on a pedestal was created by sculptor artist Jo Davidson. The monument is one of five sculptures in this park.
(Included in New York Talking Statues)
Eleanor Roosevelt in Riverside Park
A monument to Eleanor Roosevelt stands in Riverside Park at 72nd Street and Riverside Drive. The bronze figure appears to be half-seated against a boulder. It was created by sculptor artist Penelope Jencks; the boulder and foot stone created by Michael Middleton.
Rockaway Women Veterans Monument dedicated in 1989 in recognition to all women who served their country in time of conflict. The bronze and granite sculpture was created by Eileen Barry and is located at Beach 94th and Rockaway Beach Boulevard, center mall, north side.
Golda Meir on Broadway
In 1984, a bronze sculpture of Golda Meir was unveiled in the Garment District. It was created by Philadelphia artist Beatrice Goldfine, commissioned by the JCC and the Golda Meir Memorial Committee, and is situated at Golda Meir Square, Broadway at East 39th Street.
Joan of Arc on Riverside Drive
A bronze monument to Joan of Arc sits high on a pedestal on 93rd Street and Riverside Drive. Dedicated in 1915, it was the creation of the eminent artist and art patron, Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington.
(Included in New York Talking Statues)
Harriet Tubman in Harlem
The sculpture, Swing Low, Harriet Tubman is located at the intersection of St. Nicholas Avenue and Frederick Douglass Boulevard at 122nd Street in Harlem. It was created by sculptor Alison Saar as a Percent for Art installation, dedicated in 2008.
(Included in New York Talking Statues)
This fountain honors children’s book author Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett. It is located in The Conservatory Garden of Central Park.
Fearless Girl on Wall Street
A bronze sculpture entitled Fearless Girl, created by sculpture artist Kristen Visbal and commissioned by State Street Global Advisors, recently made her move ~ original installed facing Charging Bull, now located on Wall Street near the New York Stock Exchange, in view of Federal Hall (visible in the background in image above).
Goddess Athena in Astoria
A standing figure of The Goddess Athena on a pedestal is located in Athens Square Park, 30th Street and 30th Avenue in Astoria, Queens, dedicated in 1998.
(Included in New York Talking Statues).
Susan B. Anthony + Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Literary Walk in 2020
Monumental Women’s Statue Fund has commissioned and endowied a monument in Central Park honoring pioneers in the battle for Woman Suffrage and the movement for women’s rights, scheduled for installation in 2020.
Shirley Chisholm coming to Prospect Park, Brooklyn
A monument celebrating Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to serve in the House of Representatives, is coming to Prospect Park in 2020. It will be placed outside the Parkside entrance, located at the intersections of Parkside and Ocean Avenues. It will be built by She Built NYC, a city effort to expand representation of women in public art and monuments.
Check out the five final design proposals unveiled by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Percent for Art program, along with statements from the artists. Anticipated completion is the end of 2020.
The Statue of Liberty (Lady Liberty)
The Statue of Liberty ~ Enlightening the World was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the United States, dedicated in 1886. It was designated as a National Monument in 1924 and is part of the National Park Service. The copper statue was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi.
Check out The New York Talking Statues Project here.