Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park
In the late 1960s, during a period of national urban renewal, New York City Mayor John Lindsay proposed to reinvent Roosevelt Island (then called Welfare Island) into a vibrant, residential community. His planning team welcomed an appropriate new name to reflect this community.
The New York Times championed renaming the island for President Franklin D. Roosevelt and constructing a memorial to him, remarking: "It has long seemed to us that an ideal place for a memorial to FDR would be on Welfare Island, which...could be easily renamed in his honor... It would face the sea he loved, the Atlantic he bridged, the Europe he helped to save, the United Nations he inspired." The man chosen to give shape to this idea was the architect Louis I. Kahn, one of the masters of 20th century architecture.
Governor Nelson Rockefeller and Mayor Lindsay announced the project in 1973 and the appointment of Louis Kahn as its architect. In short order, the Governor became Vice President of the United States, Louis Kahn finished his work and died unexpectedly, and the City of New York approached bankruptcy. It required patience, memory and determination – and 32 years before the Roosevelt Institute resurrected the partnership with the City and State and undertook to raise the funds and construct the Four Freedoms Park. On March 29, 2010, construction of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park began.
Located immediately south of the landmark Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island, Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park will be an extraordinary addition to the landscape of New York. Visible from the air and from so many vantage points throughout the City, it will be to the East River what the Statue of Liberty is to New York Harbor: an inspiring civic space, and a beacon of America's purpose and commitment to freedom.