There’s a tent city in Rockefeller Park

A group of neighbors stayed overnight in Rockefeller Park last night to keep the state from firing up the chainsaws to make room for a monument to essential workers, and it seemed to do the trick — for now. The plastic fence has come down around the site, and the diggers are huddled in a corner together. The state’s plan would remove the six mature trees at that spot on the lawn and add hardscape paths, 14 ornamental maples and an eternal flame. See more here.

At one point around 6:30 last night, a contractor came with the makings for a chain link fence to be installed around the site, but with all the folks camped out, the governor’s office or the Battery Park City Authority clearly thought better of it.

Neighbors have been on picnic blankets and chairs on this section of the lawn since yesterday morning around 6:30a, creating a constant vigil to block the plans and especially the removal of the trees. Three families slept there overnight in tents, which the BPCA allowed given the First Amendment issues at hand here.

It my guess that most everyone who has contributed to the protest so far wants the lawn and the trees to be preserved and for the state to find a different location — that’s certainly my take. The local leagues have weighed in for instance: “Our leagues provide social and competitive play for more than 4,000 children,” said a joint statement from the three local sports leagues. “We believe it is vital to the health of these young people, our neighborhoods and our communities to preserve and maintain this open and thriving green space.”

But some residents say they are just seeking an open dialog with the governor’s office. “​Most people will respect the decision as long as there’s some communication,” said Gregory Sheindlin, who slept overnight in a tent with his two daughters. “We support the monument. But we want our opinion to be heard and considered by the governor.”

“I think they should ask for a conversation at least,” said Battery Park City resident Renata Lucchesi. “That doesn’t mean they will change their mind but that’s what people are asking. Just discuss it.”

A spokesman for the governor’s office tried to tell me that Community Board 1 had approved this site for the monument — and that the state moved it to this spot from its original choice of the main section of the lawn (!!!) as a result — but I checked with CB1 and that version of events is untrue. Back in February, when the idea of a monument was first floated, CB1 released a reso requesting that the city open a design competition and consider siting the monument in a neighborhood with more of a connection to essential workers. More recently their objections were even more strident.

The governor’s office also maintains that the trees in Rockefeller are “overgrown” for the space, which of course is a crazy notion. Trees in parks are routinely trimmed and I’ve never seen an instance in all my years working in New York City parks where a tree was taken down because it provided too much shade.




  1. bravo to these families. AWESOME JOB. The more they do this, the worse the optics will be if they tear these trees down.

    GROSS that the Governor is lying (although hardly a surprise).

    • Yes, thank you to all of you that have stepped forward on behalf of the neighborhood. Without you, the trees and the park would be ruined in that area. Let’s hope this is more than temporary!

  2. There’s a perfect spot for the memorial: Belvedere Plaza. Add the plaques, the flame, whatever. It’s already a paved grove of trees – (think of the savings!) with a better view of the SoL and way, way more foot traffic.

  3. “City and State” has an excellent story on our pushback against Cuomo’s monument, with fine headline, “Battery Park City residents rebel against Cuomo’s planned memorial.”

    Fyi, “City and State” is targeted at political insiders. Politicians read it, as do journalists.


  4. These specific trees are not overgrown. I have to laugh because that is such a ludicrous thing to say.

  5. Hold the Line to Save the Lawn, Heroes!

  6. A similar protest took place in Stockholm in 1971. People protected 13 Elm tress which the city council wanted to fell in order to create a new metro station. The city lost andthe tress are still there. You can read about it here:

  7. Come support the protest with a Block party today: 2-6pm. Please bring food, meet neighbors, enjoy the park and meet our 1st Precinct NYPD Captain and Community Affairs officers who are doing a book drive today at Rock Park.