NYC Gets New State Park

Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island in the East River in New York City is New York's newest state park.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park juts into New York City's East River.

Four Freedoms Park is a tribute to the life and work of President Roosevelt, a former governor of New York who led the nation through a tumultuous period in American and world history.

The park will open to the public on October 24.

"With the opening of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park this fall, New Yorkers and visitors from around the world will have a memorial to recognize a great leader and native New Yorker who led our nation out of the Great Depression and steered America to victory in World War II," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

"New York's state parks are a true treasure, and the addition of Four Freedoms Park will give the park system yet another location for visitors to enjoy the outdoors, while also paying tribute to President Roosevelt."

The last design of the iconic American architect Louis I. Kahn, and the only design by Kahn in New York City, the four-acre park is a major new addition to New York’s cultural and public life.

The park features a granite plaza at the southern tip of Roosevelt Island, tree-lined paths, and a bronze bust of Roosevelt by acclaimed portrait sculptor Jo Davidson.

The park has been decades in the making. Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and Mayor Lindsay announced the project in 1973, appointing Kahn as its architect; Kahn died unexpectedly shortly after completing the park’s plans, and the City of New York’s financial troubles dampened momentum for the project.

More than 30 years later, former Ambassador to the United Nations William vanden Heuvel and the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy spearheaded a philanthropic effort to revive the park, enabling construction to begin in 2010.

The park derives its name from a January 6, 1941, speech delivered by President Roosevelt, in which he described his vision for a world founded on four essential human freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

The park will offer a free interactive digital educational resource that visitors will be able to access on any mobile device. It will provide a multi-media narrative critical to understanding President Roosevelt’s significance, and was designed with the encouragement of the National Endowment for the Humanities with the help of historians and FDR scholars.

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With the addition of Four Freedoms, the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation operates 179 state parks and 35 historic sites.

Four Freedoms will be the first new state park in New York City since East River State Park opened in Brooklyn in 2007 and the first new state park in the state since the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park opened outside of Poughkeepsie in 2009.

Park maintenance, programming, and security will be provided cooperatively by State Parks, Four Freedoms Park Conservancy, and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp.