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. I think I’m going to throw up.

  2. Cuomo and his team need to stop work immediately and rethink a way to honor essential workers without destroying our limited park space, paving over grass, and cutting down massive trees.

  3. Ugh. Important tribute but an absolutely awful location. Agree on all your questions and points.

  4. This is truly a terrible idea for all the reasons mentioned above. Additionally this appears to be another self centered Cuomo projects that is more about the PR value for Cuomo than about actually honoring the Essential workers. (My wife is an Essential Worker and I love the idea of honoring their work but not like this).
    The only reason Battery Park City was chosen is because it is the only NYC area Cuomo has control over. This is a political pissing contest. Pathetic.

    • Agree. He also put the Mother Cabrini statue in BPC recently, as well. All about him. Anything to deflect from his scandals.

      • You poor folks! Andy is doing the exact same thing to us in North Brooklyn. Don’t give up.

      • Agreed, it’s infuriating and deplorable that Cuomo would take away any of the open space in Rockefeller Park. There has got to be a better place to put this monument, but don’t even think about touching Battery Park.

        The Cabrini statue, on the other hand, is very moving and well sited without taking up much space. I love that Mother Cabrini and the two children in the paper boat are sailing into the wind towards the Statue of Liberty. It’s one of my favorite monuments in lower Manhattan.

  5. The children having to wear masks suddenly who has coped so well throughout the pandemic deserves to have the little piece of nature here. How can one be so out of touch with the people that he is suppose to represent? Perhaps living in Albany makes it easy for one to forget the scarcity of green open space in the city. For the children? How can you do this?

  6. Signed because…yuck!

  7. This is a nice idea. But the logic behind the choice for the location really escapes me and my family. Why take away the small sliver of green field that is used by neighborhood children and also families, who travel to the area to picnic on the north meadow. The area proposed is where the most shade is offered and is where many people on weekends locate their picnics for kid birthday parties or small wedding showers. I believe it is used by kids to play all sorts of games on other days.

    It seems like this was conceived of and designed by people who do not use this part of the city or know this neighborhood. I fear that it is going to be a sad location to celebrate the first responders. There is often pot smoke wafting in that area and those benches and eternal flame zone will be end up becoming a prime area for dogs to mark with urine and poop. How that is supposed to be a gesture to commemorate the first responders I have no idea.

    A better location would be down in Battery Park near the Staten Island ferry terminal. Thousands of people pass through there. Many first responders probably. The area is partly covered in asphalt and would benefit from the improvements. Less neighborhood dogs being walked. Most importantly, it would not take away green space from the children who attend the three schools in this neighborhood.

  8. Rally on Saturday (6/26) @ 2pm in Rockefeller Park. Come out to support the moving of the Essential Workers Monument.

  9. Thank you for writing! Keep it up!

  10. I signed. This is an unwelcome intrusion. We don’t need or want to reduce green space in battery park.

  11. Pam, doesn’t the Hudson River Parkway group have any authority over the park? Thanks for the info and the petition. I signed.

    • This is Battery Park City Authority property, not Hudson River Park. Though I will note that HRPT is a state/city authority built on property owned by both: from 34th Street south is the state. That’s why there are two monuments there as well — one to the AIDS memorial, which was built into the landscape quite nicely, and the LGBT Memorial, which was sited after the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting.

  12. Dismayed at the thought of more plantlife being removed for more paving, cement etc. Already miss the lovely flower bed where the Mother Cabrini statue now stands. Why not put these monuments where there already is paving? We all desperately need greenery and flowers, colors, scents, bees, open spaces. Please DO NOT DESTROY WHAT WE STILL HAVE!

  13. Hard to tell exactly where it’s located, but removing beloved, highly utilized green space for concrete and flagpoles is absolutely absurd. Further, it makes no sense to have a monument in BPC, which wasn’t particularly at the forefront of the crisis. Terrible idea and abuse of power. Residents need to push back vocally.

    Destroying parks is not the way to honor essential workers and lost loved ones.

    • You can go see where it will be, they started getting ready for construction the same day Cuomo announced it. I can’t believe there was no public meeting about this, zero transparency. Taking down this beautiful old trees is a tragedy.

  14. Totally agree- why not near a hospital in Queens or Brooklyn or the Bronx that was hard hit by the pandemic, and where workers can see it and feel appreciated instead of here in an area that had some of the lower rates of infection, and as you pointed out, is beyond the reach of most of those 19 categories of essential workers…

    And I imagine Hudson River Park will continue to be a dumping ground for memorials that really belong in other, more appropriate communities.

  15. Peaceful protest at the site at 2pm today (6/26). Trees are scheduled to be cut down on Monday.

    • I was away and missed today’s (6/26) rally. If you haven’t yet, can you post the time of the Monday protest? Will we assemble super-early to beat the chainsaws?

  16. I think that this is a terrible idea. This is an area used for children to run freely. There are many early learning activities that use most of the area especially in the warm weather. Adults of all ages gather in this area to celebrate birthdays and other milestones in their lives. Just the noise and dirt will make this highly used park an unpleasant place to go to have a peaceful place to relax.

  17. WHAT TO DO: The most effective way to demand that any monument is more thoughtfully located is to take direct action in local government forums.

    Please show up to the next Community Board Meeting prepared to make your voice heard.

    DATE: Tuesday, July 27, 2021
    TIME: 6:00 PM
    Agenda will be posted one week prior to meeting date.
    1 Centre Street, Room 2202 – North
    New York, NY 10007
    Tel: (212) 669-7970

  18. It’s in BPC because the state controls the BPCA and it’s the only available space in the city for the governor to flex and dump this tribute. Don’t get me wrong- essential workers deserve recognition- but not in the middle of this beautiful green space! This is absurd- I’ve signed the petition and encouraged all my friends and neighbors in BPC (where I have lived for 20 years).

  19. One red maple tree for each woman Cuomo is accused of sexually harassing. #nytouch

  20. I believe there is a protest scheduled Monday am to stop the cutting down of these beautiful trees.

  21. Foley square would be the place for this. But if they put it where they plan, I’ll join the skateboarders who are *definitely* going to rip it to shreds.

  22. Compromise: monument to be designed by Salvatore Garau. Can be called “NYC Clapping.”

  23. We are absolutely in favor of honoring the essential workers who were instrumental in keeping New York City running during the pandemic, often at great risk to their own health and welfare. They are heroes and deserve to be honored and treated as heroes. A monument or memorial in their honor is a fantastic idea and one that I am sure the entire community supports. But it does not seem appropriate, or even respectful to these heroes, to eliminate a beautiful, frequently used and vital piece of open space in their names.

    Rockefeller Park is an oasis of open green space that provides a critical refuge to the residents of the entire city. It is particularly important to the children of Lower Manhattan as it provides space for kids to run and play or to simply sit in the grass and enjoy the outdoors. The space where I understand this large memorial would be placed is a particularly beautiful space where families enjoy the breeze coming off the river in the shade. It is often littered with families on picnic blankets, frolicking children, soccer balls, frisbees, footballs, and all manner of games and toys. Destroying this beautiful, beloved, vital and busy space would be a travesty. Surely there is a better location for a memorial.

    Let’s continue the conversation about where best to honor these heroes. And let’s not do irreparable damage to this beautiful park without consulting all those that might be impacted.

  24. I have been a resident of River Terrace since 2003 and of the larger FiDi district since 1999. Please please do not allow this abomination to be built. There is so little green space and waterfront space in NYC. This park is already overcrowded and enjoyed not just by areas residents like me, but by visitors, families, Stuyvesant High School and other area school students, by exercise and yoga groups, picnickers, toddlers listening to music. This is what the park is for. Please build the monument where it will not displace so many people from such a rare and treasured resource: park and trees and water!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Pass it on!


  25. The park and green space is important. And necessary. During COVID the lawn was a gathering space. The City needs green spaces. The City needs waterfront spaces. Put the monument somewhere else or make it a vertical column or statue on the cemented area so it does not destroy the park and trees we all use. Thank you.

  26. This is absolutely ridiculous. Everyone agrees honoring essential workers should happen, so politicians can strike out the inevitable “straw person” argument in that respect. This monument makes no sense in the space proposed other than to “check a box” and “grease someone’s pocket”.

    Rockefeller Park is a beautiful, serene space with little shade. Children sit every morning (in the shade of the beautiful trees) listening to musicians play in the very spot this monument will be erected. Diminishing the Park will add to the continued neighborhood decline, which all residents see every day.

    Further, disrupting this park so politicians can cut a ribbon and “pat themselves on the back” for their accomplishments is shameful, and the fact that the Community has had no opportunity to voice their concerns, is not democratic. Shame on you BPCA, Council-people, Community Board 1 etc.

    If this all goes through pretty sure lots of people will vote you out of your positions – one way or another. If we have to go to Albany and disrupt your cushy relationships – pretty sure we will.
    Respectfully submitted

  27. The best monument for essential workers is truly affordable housing. Most essential workers are scraping by on low wages, poor working conditions, and long hours. They cannot afford to live in Manhattan, and must commute long distances to get to work, too far away to come and “admire” the concrete monument that supposedly honors them. Let us tear down some of the luxury housing where Cuomo’s wealthy donors live and replace it with housing with reasonable rents where the essential workers could afford to live

  28. Signs of protest being posted on the orange barrier netting. Have your children fill it with signs and get a news crew down here. Then chain your kids to those trees. HOW on earth could they chop those down!?! On manhattan we don’t get new green land, it only gets chopped down. This can’t happen.

  29. Hello I have submitted comments (2) and while they appear to be under review they have yet to be posted, while a post after mine was submitted has been posted. If you do not plan to publish my posts – please have the courtesy and professional integrity to let me know the specific reason you choose not to do so.

    • You submitted three comments: two at 11:30pm-ish last night and one at nearly 2 in the morning. I approved them today. Comments are approved at my discretion, not just on content but also on timing. And I do not have to tell people why.

      • Thank you for responding, it’s most appreciated. Hopefully you continue to (collectively) put forward fair positions on either side of issues related to the monument for the public to consider – as true reporters should do. Be well!

        • to be clear, no one is against the monument. just asking cuomo for a dialogue with the community to gather input about the best location.


    emails can be sent to the governor’s representative at: with a cc to:

    State Assemblywoman Deborah Glick

    State Senator Brian Kavanaugh

    City Councilwoman Margaret Chin

    I recommend emails make *specific requests* along with personal appeals:
    • an in-person public community meeting help ASAP with Governor’s office, BPCA, Glick, Kavanaugh, and Chin present
    • At that meeting, members of the community should have the opportunity to ask questions about this monument and receive details from the Governor’s office and BPCA
    • No construction should commence, and the park should be made fully available again until the community can participate in this meeting

    • tree cutting scheduled to start at 7am monday morning
      protesters gathering at 630am- bring your signs!

      • Is this really happening? We need 400-500 people arm in arm surrounding the perimeter and cameras rolling. Or 10 people each around the 7-8 trees. How is this word getting out apart from the comments here?

        • it’s really happening. there is a community group that has organized and will be there-please come!!

          • I would love to be included in any organizing. Where can I find out more?

            Signed, Tribeca Mom

  31. Horrible idea. Kids need more space to play in a neighborhood with not enough open space as it is. Horrible waste of taxpayer money as well.

  32. Can a lawsuit be filed to at least temporarily halt construction until community concerns ha e been heard?

    • Another misguided statue, memorial, tribute by our demagogue Governor. Essential workers need support not someone tearing up precious parks which we have so little of. Where are our elected leaders standing up to him?

  33. Wonderful tribute, terrible location. It hurts my soul to see trees and nature destroyed, especially in a city. The reason these things keep happening is the representation for Battery Park/ FIDI is terrible. Nothing but a bunch of whiners that obtain zero results.
    Until that changes this will continue to happen.
    Sorry… but it’s true.

  34. Echoing the above. The lawns are so important to thousands of community members. I hope you guys on the ground today can try to get an injunction to stop the demo through your action. Don’t let them cut a single tree! Maybe they will scale it way down with enough outcry. Who needs an eternal flame to mix with toddlers and teens anyway?

  35. This money should be funneled to the NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation. So many small parks in the other boroughs need restoration and maintenance. Where COVID victims lived and where essential workers now live. A real public amenity

    p.s. Within sight of this proposed stupidity is the clocktower at Pier 1. This is the first memorial to soldiers who died in World War I.

    No plaque, no names, just a public amenity.

  36. How horrifying to learn about this destruction of the park. Petition has been signed and shared, and suggested letters written to politicians. This is so heartbreaking.

  37. Please make calls to local news stations to get more noise about this! The number for Eyewitness news is 917-260-7700

  38. Awful location. Why not City Hall Park?

  39. There were a good number of people (parents and kids) that entered the fenced off area and set up picnics by all of the targeted trees this morning. I believe they successfully delayed the tree cutting that was supposed to start today. Great job to all those involved!!!

  40. Don’t do this! Are you trying to drive out the families that are still left in the City?

  41. While the essential workers certainly deserve a monument for their heroic service during the pandemic which devestated our city, it should not be at the expense of sacrificing open air green space whioch promotes the good helath of us all. There should be a better way.

  42. A What’s App for those looking to help with a peaceful demonstration in the park:

  43. I share in your horror at this poorly planned memorial. Having lived for five years right in front of this proposed site, I can say that this beautiful, uninterrupted stretch of green space is vital to not only the families of BPC, but to the many New Yorkers who enjoy these impeccable lawns. To chop down mature trees and pour concrete in the middle of an already stunning green pace is ridiculous and reeks of political posturing.
    We ALL agree that a respectful celebration of all of our essential workers is 100% necessary and should be strongly supported. However, why destroy an existing, beautiful and beloved park instead of planning and growing new life into new park — ones that our hero healthcare workers can enjoy perhaps on their lunch breaks? What better tribute to our hero healthcare workers than to replicate their life’s calling — sustaining and growing new strength into those who fall ill. There are countless areas around the hospitals that need this level of respect, care and growth.
    PS. Let us not forget that Rockefeller Park and it’s beauty also sustained our emotionally scarred little ones post September 11th. For our family this will always be sacred ground.

  44. I signed. I hope we can stop this.

  45. I was an early resident of the financial district in the 80s when we had nothing down there but tall buildings soot and no light. I served on CB1 when the parks were being built as one of the cochair people for the youth committee when our kids had no grass or trees whatsoever. We fought so hard for open space and through the years I watched it being chiseled away. This is absolutely a sad commentary on the lack of community participation with the local government. Not that there was great communication between the community and city government to begin with but my recollection was that CB1 was a lot stronger in those days. Mostly because downtown was built on Mitchell llama housing and had a lot more permanent residence than it does now. Now it seems to be just a revolving door for transients in Battery Park city. People were more invested in quality of life issues not just who could build the biggest memorial to themselves – better to use the money to actually build or repair affordable housing for those who clean up
    after the capitalist wasteland that the once historic community has become. Shame on the myopic vision of the Cuomo administration- not what Mario would have done!

    • I don’t want to distract from the important subject at hand, but I politely disagree with your assessment of the current community involvement in downtown matters. Yes, affordable housing timed out in BPC and that’s just crappy politics. However, the families in Tribeca and BPC fight for a strong quality of life for their children. If something needs done, they get it done. Look at the Downtown Soccer League and Downtown Little League. All parent volunteers. Sponsored by neighborhood families and businesses. These folks are fully and passionately invested in their communities. Give these people a plausible idea and they carry it to fruition.
      Now, let’s keep intact that gorgeous park that you selflessly worked hard to build.

  46. What’s happening? Did they stop the cutting ? We are not in town but returning soon… signed the petition and will March- protest when we can!

  47. This was covered on NY1 this morning. It was followed by some snarky comments by the hosts about how nice the memorial is and how people can still move around the park and why are they objecting. I have written to them, mentioning that this will be next to some very noisy basketball courts which isn’t appropriate along with some of the other objections raised here and suggest you do the same.

  48. I live right across, and I’m an essential worker, but c’mon, some kid in the neighborhood s gonna fall in that flame and y’all gonna be in trouble.

  49. So many of the schools use that area during and after-school. Cuomo is a joke now.