Queens locals say Billie Holiday monument should be in historic Addisleigh Park, not Kew Gardens
Photo via Wikimedia
Residents in southeast Queens are pushing the city to place a monument of jazz artist Billie Holiday in their neighborhood, instead of Kew Gardens, as the city proposed. In March, First lady Chirlane McCray announced plans to erect four statues of trailblazing women across the boroughs, including commissioning one of Holiday near Queens Borough Hall. But as Patch reported this week, locals want the monument to be in the Addisleigh Park Historic District, where Holiday, as well as many other prominent jazz musicians, lived in the late 1940s and ’50s.
Gottlieb, William P. Portrait of Billie Holiday and Mister, Downbeat, New York, N.Y.; Via Library of Congress
“Our Southeast Queens community would benefit from a statue of this successful black woman for cultural heritage purposes,” Rene Hill, a chair on Queens Community Board 12, told Patch.
While an exact location for Billie Holiday’s statue has not been chosen, a spokesperson for the city’s cultural affairs department told Patch they are looking near Queens Borough Hall. Residents, including Central Queens Historical Association President Jeff Gotlieb, believe it makes more sense to honor the singer in St. Albans Park, located near her former home on Linden Boulevard.
Addisleigh Park sits within the western part of the St. Albans neighborhood, which is roughly two miles north of JFK Airport. The city landmarked the small enclave in 2011, noting its importance as a home to African American luminaries, including many jazz musicians, in the middle of the 20th century.
“What Addisleigh Park represented to these and other African Americans was a safe community to which to raise their children, where they could reap the rewards of suburban living within the boundaries of New York City,” the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation report reads.
The statue of Holliday is part of the city’s campaign, called She Built NYC, aimed at addressing the inequity of New York’s public spaces. As of today, just five of the city’s 150 statues are of women. Other women set to be honored include Shirley Chisholm, Elizabeth Jennings Graham, Dr. Helen Rodríguez Trías, and Katherine Walker.