Written by Claire Leaden and Brianna Perry
Marsha P. Johnson State Park, located on the waterfront in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, became the first state park in New York to honor a LGBTQ person and transgender woman of color in February 2020, and recently, on August 24, Governor Kathy Hochul released renderings of the new gateway to coming to the park.
Marsha, a Black transgender woman, moved to Greenwich Village after high school and became a leading figure during the Stonewall Uprising. She co-founded STAR with Sylvia Rivera (who is also part of the statue memorial across from Stonewall Inn), was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, and established a shelter in New York City to support LGBTQ young people rejected by their families.
“Too often, the marginalized voices that have pushed progress forward in New York and across the country go unrecognized, making up just a fraction of our public memorials and monuments,” former Governor Cuomo said. “Marsha P. Johnson was one of the early leaders of the LGBTQ movement, and is only now getting the acknowledgement she deserves. Dedicating this state park for her, and installing public art telling her story, will ensure her memory and her work fighting for equality lives on.”
Along with the renaming, the state also had plans to add public art installations that honor the legendary activist, though those plans were eventually scrapped after community members, including Johnson’s family and Black trans activists, asked the state’s Parks Department to include more natural elements in the design as well as public feedback.
On August 24, renderings of a new gateway to Marsha P. Johnson State Park were released by Governor Kathy Hochul.
The bold and colorful floral gateway at the Kent Avenue and North Eighth Street entrance will begin construction in 2023, and eventually welcome visitors into the park. Intended to communicate Marsha P. Johnson’s spirit and legacy, the gateway will build on recently completed park additions, including a perennial garden and ‘Marsha’s hillside’ to honor her love of nature as well as permanent panels documenting Marsha’s life, work, and community among other improvements.
The seven-acre waterfront park offers visitors gorgeous views of the Manhattan skyline, a play area, and all the green space needed for recreation and relaxation. It attracts approximately 1.6 million visitors each year.