Brooklyn’s Marsha P. Johnson Park to get new ‘ornamental’ entrance
Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday revealed the design of a new gateway to Williamsburg’s Marsha P. Johnson State Park. Located at the Kent Avenue and North Eighth Street entrance, the ornamental entrance is meant to “communicate Marsha P. Johnson’s spirit and legacy” while complementing the park and surrounding neighborhood. The design of the gateway will continue through the fall of 2022 and construction is expected next year.
In August 2020, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo dedicated the East River State Park to Marsha P. Johnson, who played a significant role in the Stonewall Uprising and was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front. The state park is the first in New York named after an LGBTQ person and transgender woman of color.
The new gate will be decorated with colorful flowers, a nod to the flower crowns Johnson wore, and the phrase “Pay it no mind,” which is how Johnson would sarcastically respond when asked what the “P” stood for in her name.
The entrance builds upon recent upgrades to the park’s landscape, which includes a native species perennial garden, a new great lawn, new trees, new park furnishings, permeable pathways, and a stormwater management system. New permanent interpretive panels will teach parkgoers about Johnson’s life, work, and community.
Hochul’s announcement came on what would have been Johnson’s 77th birthday.
“Marsha P. Johnson was a trailblazer who stood up for what is right, challenged the status quo, and changed the course of history,” Hochul said in a statement. “As we celebrate Marsha P. Johnson’s birthday, New York State will continue to honor her story at this newly renovated state park, where we are highlighting her message and carrying it forward for new generations of visitors.”
Last year, the park underwent a series of improvements, including the construction of new public bathrooms, gathering spaces, a classroom, a maintenance and ranger contact space, and refurbished pathways and event platforms.
The state’s original $16.5 million proposal called for a rainbow-striped mural on concrete slabs, large flower sculptures, and industrial park furniture. But community members, including Johnson’s family, called on the state’s Parks Department to revise its design to include more natural elements. Construction was halted and the state hosted several virtual meetings to get more feedback from the community, as 6sqft reported.
A revised design released in May 2021 included more greenery and scrapped the previous plan’s rainbow-striped plastic mural.
“Inclusion and acceptance are goals that we take to heart at State Parks,” Erik Kulleseid, commissioner of State Parks, said in a statement. “The new and improved version of Marsha P. Johnson State Park is a great example of how we can be welcoming and open to all, and to reflect the varied and diverse stories of the many people and places of New York State.”