Roosevelt Island: it’s an opportunity to get away from New York while still being in New York. Whether you drive, bike, or take public transportation, this narrow strip of land sandwiched between Manhattan and Queens has much to offer in terms of a day’s delight. You’ve got parks, the arts, and enough photo opportunities to make your Instagram friends totally jelly. From the famous abandoned Smallpox Hospital to the flashy new buildings of Cornell Tech, here’s everything to do on your island excursion.
Four Freedom’s Park
As a media sponsor of Archtober–NYC’s annual month-long architecture and design festival of tours, lectures, films, and exhibitions–6sqft has teamed up with the Center for Architecture to explore some of their 70+ partner organizations.
In 2012, 40 years after it was conceived by late architect Louis Kahn, Four Freedoms Park opened on four acres on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island. Part park, part memorial to FDR (the first dedicated to the former president in his home state), the site was designed to celebrate the Four Freedoms that Roosevelt outlined in his 1941 State of the Union address–Freedom of speech, of worship, from want, and from fear. In addition to its unique social and cultural position, the Park is set apart architecturally–the memorial is constructed from 7,700 tons of raw granite, for example–and horticulturally–120 Little Leaf Linden trees are all perfectly aligned to form a unified sight line.
And with these distinctions comes a special team working to upkeep the grounds and memorial, educate the public, and keep the legacy of both Kahn and Roosevelt at the forefront. To learn a bit more about what it’s like to work for the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy, we recently toured the park with Park Director Angela Stangenberg and Director of Strategic Partnerships & Communications Madeline Grimes, who filled us in on their day-to-day tasks, some of their challenges, and several secrets of the beautiful site.
The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedom’s Park may have opened relatively recently in 2012, but architect Louis Kahn was brewing up the design for the memorial park nearly 40 years earlier. Kahn’s death in 1974 (a somewhat tragic one which left him dead and alone in a Penn Station bathroom after a heart attack) was unfortunately accented by a dwindling reputation — Kahn’s sordid multi-family affairs had come to light upon his passing and his fading architecture practice was loaded with debt. But beyond all the scandal, Kahn also left behind a number of sketchbooks packed with complete sets of unrealized projects. One of these projects was the Four Freedom’s Park.
While plenty of accolades have been given to successful realization of the project so far after Kahn’s death, few have tracked where the architect may have pulled his inspiration for the design. That is until now. As a number of Kahn’s sketches emerge for public viewing, some are asking: Was the the design of Louis Kahn’s Four Freedom’s Park inspired by the Eye of Providence found on the U.S. dollar bill?