Four Freedoms Park was conceived of and designed four decades ago as a memorial to former U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his famous “Four Freedoms” speech. The island in New York City on which the four-acre park is located was renamed Roosevelt Island in his honor in 1973, but the city was then on the verge of bankruptcy, and plans for the Park were put on hold.
On Wednesday, October 24th, the spectacular new park, designed by legendary architect Louis Kahn on a stunning site looking across the East River at the United Nations, will open to the public. It is Kahn’s only work in New York City and was designed just prior to the architect’s unexpected death in 1974. Michael Kimmelman, architecture critic for The New York Times, calls it “a belated and monumental triumph for New York and for everyone who cares about architecture and public space”.
Construction of the Park and creation of its educational program have been made possible in part by a significant grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Both the Park and the educational program highlight and illuminate Roosevelt’s landmark “Four Freedoms” speech – his inaugural address in 1941, in which he articulated his vision for a more perfect world where freedom of speech, freedom to worship, freedom from fear, and freedom from want would exist for all.
“The ‘Four Freedoms’ are as compelling a vision today as they were in 1941, and Four Freedoms Park is a beautiful public space”, said Andreas Dracopoulos, Co-President of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. “We are very proud of the role our Foundation has played in helping to make this monumental project a reality. The fact that the main focus of our grant has been the development of the resources that will further enhance the educational impact of FDR’s message makes us even prouder.”