Four Freedoms Park – Roosevelt Island

This is a true New York Jewel that is seldomly visited by locals.  It’s a Park, its Architecture, Its Landscape Design, Its Fresh Air, Views, Trees and much more.

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The easiest way to get here is to take the Roosevelt Island tram from East 60th and Second avenue and to the South you start to see the Park BUT I recommend you take the subway and walk.  Walk towards the Queensboro Bridge and you will have inspiring views of Manhattan to your right; the future Cornell-Technion University, Long Island City and the remnants of the Old Smallpox Hospital to your left.

The memorial to President Franklin D. Roosevelt was announced by Governor Nelson Rockefeller and Mayor John Lindsay in 1973, and yet due to financial instability, the death of its architect Louis Kahn, and changes within NY State leadership, plans for the memorial were put aside.  Gina Pollara completed Khan’s work with the help of his detailed sketches in 2014.

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My favorite way to make a grand entrance to the park is by using the stairs at the base of the triangle.  As you go up you start to see the lawn, trees and perimeter walls converging on FDR’s bust made by Jo Davidson; all on a downward slope pointing to the river.  To the right you see Manhattan, to the left Queens and in front one can see Brooklyn; the park is surrounded by water.  Behind FDR’s bust you can see the Four Freedoms that were part of his 1941 state of the union address which are a tenet of American Values and still hold true after more than a half century: Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.  

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I believe Khan would have wanted to make the park entirely out of concrete but the final version was completed with a magnificent granite-and lots of it.  The park follows Khan’s signature architectural style: clean lines, intriguing perspectives, spare landscaping, triangular lines that draw the eye.  All this makes for a one-of-a-kind experience very worthwhile visiting- even for New Yorkers.

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