QUEENS, NY – Borough President Melinda Katz today hosted the ribbon-cutting for the newly-restored “Women’s Plaza in Queens”, a public space dedicated to the women of Queens. The plaza is located at the northeast corner of Union Turnpike and Queens Boulevard, adjacent to Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens.
“Queens has been home to so many incredible, trail-blazing women across all industries, from business to politics, sports to entertainment,” said Borough President KATZ. “The Women’s Plaza in Queens – located in our borough’s civic center – is a visible, meaningful tribute to all the women of Queens who have made a lasting positive impact in New York City and around the globe. This newly-restored public space at Queens Borough Hall should be utilized by many, and will serve as a reminder of how far we’ve come and how much further we must go.”
“I congratulate and thank Borough President Katz for creating a beautiful space at Borough Hall where people can relax and women will now be celebrated rather than denigrated,” said former Queens Borough President CLAIRE SHULMAN, who called for the removal of the original “Triumph of Civic Virtue” statue during her tenure as Borough President. She had infamously stated, “A municipal building is not an appropriate place for a statue that portrays women as evil and treacherous.”
“The recently completed renovations for the new women’s plaza will enhance the community while paying tribute to the women of Queens,” said U.S. Representative GRACE MENG. “Thanks to Borough President Katz, and all involved in this initiative, for working to recognize the women of our great borough.”
“Queens Borough Hall, a building with a strong history of female leadership, now has its own Women’s Plaza honoring the women of the borough,” said NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Acting Commissioner ANA BARRIO. “DDC is very pleased to be able to build this beautiful new addition to the neighborhood.”
The plaza was formerly the site of the controversial “Triumph of Civic Virtue” statue, a 17-foot-high marble statue that depicted a male nude standing on top of two female figures representing “Vice” and “Corruption”. The statue was commissioned by Mayor George B. McClellan, Jr. in 1909 and designed by Beaux-Arts sculptor Frederick MacMonnies. It was installed and resided at City Hall since 1922 until it was relocated by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia in 1941 to the grounds of the then-new Queens Borough Hall, where it remained for over 70 years. The statue finally found a permanent home in December 2012 at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, where MacMonnies’ father, mother and brother are interred.
Shortly after taking office in January 2014, Borough President Katz endorsed former Borough President Helen Marshall’s idea to repair and restore the remaining structure and surrounding plaza, and to repurpose and dedicate it to the women of Queens.
The base that is the now centerpiece “Women’s Plaza in Queens” remained in place after “Civic Virtue” was removed, but its condition had deteriorated due to prior years of neglect and exposure to the elements. The base was recently repaired and cleaned as part of a restoration project funded by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Borough President Katz, which began in May 2016 by DDC and contractor Prespective Construction Company. The $960,000 capital project restored the damaged stonework, improved landscaping, and installed plantings, new lighting and benches for public use. The site now also includes a ceremonial plaque indicating that the site has been rededicated in honor of the women of Queens.
Follow Borough President Katz via @melindakatz or www.facebook.com/queensbpkatz