Last year Governor Cuomo announced that East River State Park would be renamed after LGBTQ+ rights activist Marsha P. Johnson, and on her 75th birthday yesterday it was made official.
Marsha P. Johnson State Park, located on the waterfront in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, will become the first state park in New York to honor a LGBTQ person and transgender woman of color.
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,” 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 will also improve the park facilities and add public art installations that honor the legendary activist, especially highlighting her personal style of bright colors and flowers. Already, decorative fence entrance screening honoring her have been installed, along with interpretive signage outlining Marsha’s life and her role in promoting LGBTQ rights and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Other additions include, as stated in the press release:
Artwork and interpretive materials celebrating Marsha P. Johnson’s life, along with other material on the LGBTQ movement, will be installed on two long parallel historic gantry foundation walls, which create a natural outdoor gallery. State Parks will consult with the New York City LGBTQ community on design and content.
A new park house/education center: The much-needed public park facility will house classroom space overlooking the park, public bathrooms, park ranger contact station and a small maintenance storage area. This 1200-square-foot facility, built in container-style to reflect the rail-to-barge shipping history of the site, is funded in part by grants from Assembly Member Joseph Lentol and New York City Council Member Steve Levin.
Parkwide infrastructure upgrades to resurface the large but deteriorating concrete pads that host Smorgasburg and other park and community events, add park furniture that better reflect the site’s industrial/commercial heritage, rehabilitate the gantry walls and improve stormwater management systems.
The redesign and improvements are set to be completed by this coming summer, 2021.
In other news: Brooklyn Bridge Becomes A Walkable Greenspace With Lush Mini ‘Forests’ In Winning Redesign
featured image source: Rendering by NY State Parks