State breaks ground on huge monument for Rockefeller Park lawn

The state has broken ground on a monument to essential workers — to be called Essential Worker Park — on the lawn in Rockefeller Park just at the end of Warren Street.. I cannot express what a ridiculous idea this is, to take away open, unprogrammed space for both children and adults in a spectacular waterfront park and replace it with hardscape and benches and flag poles and of all things, fire. And they will have it done, they said, by Sept. 6.

Where do I start? Maybe first with the petition that A. just sent. You can sign it here.

Community Board 1 has raised its opposition as loud as it can, both in February when this was first proposed and now. “There is rich irony in locating this memorial in Battery Park City, a neighborhood that symbolizes the failure of the State and Battery Park City Authority to protect affordable housing. The families departing from formerly stabilized apartments are an ever-present reminder that essential workers are no longer able to afford living here,” read part of their resolution.

You can see the renderings above and below — I think I have the location right — B. also wrote that this is the spot: just west of the handball and basketball courts.

I take offense to so many things here, not the least of which is lack of community input, but also the goal. If is in fact to honor essential workers, how about finding where those workers would most appreciate a monument? How about asking the unions that represent so many of those workers? How about finding a state park that is under-programmed or underused, and giving it an infusion of cash? When the state decided to put a memorial to Hurricane Maria at the end of Chambers, they chose a neighborhood that is 8 percent Hispanic in a city that is 30 percent Hispanic. Who is it for?

C. wrote with another good point: “As an essential worker who lives in the community I can say from experience that green space and fresh air of Rockefeller Park helped me and many others cope with the immense stress and challenges of the pandemic.”

This is what the state’s announcement said: The Circle of Heroes design will represent the essential workers who served their communities throughout the pandemic, sacrificing so much in order to keep their fellow New Yorkers safe and supported. Construction of the Essential Workers Monument is due to be completed by Labor Day…The location in Battery Park City is along the water, in view of the statue of liberty. This spot is easily accessible to New Yorkers and visitors in a highly trafficked part of the park.”

The design has 19 red maple trees symbolizing the essential workers that carried New York through the pandemic including: nurses, doctors, healthcare workers, transit workers, police officers, EMTS and paramedics, firefighters, correctional officers, store employees, National Guard, government employees, building service workers, utility and communications workers, delivery drivers, teachers, sanitation workers, construction and manufacturing workers, food service workers and hospitality workers.

At the center is an eternal flame.



  1. The pandemic starkly illuminated the importance of green, open space. Apparently that lesson is lost on Cuomo. The way to honor essential workers is to create more green space, not less. This is, more than anything, a wasted opportunity. And to me, it’s another reminder that our politicians learned nothing from the past year about the shared experience of living, day to day, in the city.

    I’m all for a monument. Let’s make a new park for it!

  2. I’m all for appreciating essential workers, but this is a RIDICULOUS WASTE OF MONEY.

    The park is so much more helpful to working people the way it is. There are many other places to put a monument, if the powers that be absolutely have to show off and spend money, whether public or private, on monuments that help no one.

    Why not a scholarship fund for children of essential workers? I would donate to that. I would donate to something that actually helped the workers or their loved ones, that made an actual improvement in somebody’s life. There are many wonderful tourist destinations all along the river front, throughout this beautiful park. There is no need for another one.

    Please, please don’t kill these beautiful trees and this comforting area for the sake of an empty, political gesture.