The lower west side of Manhattan is getting a new park that will not only add some green space to the neighborhood, but will also serve to honor the immigrants who lived there and helped built the city. The neighborhood was once the home of immigrants from Lebanon and Syria, and later became an enclave for artists and writers. Now, what was called “Little Syria” will feature art by artists with a connection to the area and a pedestrian pathway to the 9/11 Memorial.
The city has stepped forward to honor the contributions of the community dubbed “Little Syria”. The Department of Cultural Affairs of New York City, and its Percent for Art program has completed plans to create a public art monument and park commemorating the vibrant neighborhood. The Elizabeth H. Berger Plaza will be a 20,00 feet public park, named after Liz Berger, the late President of the Downtown Alliance. The park will be designed to include a path for pedestrians to walk to the 9/11 Memorial and Battery Park.
Sara Ouhaddou, artist and designer of French-Moroccan roots, was selected to complete the monument. Her work, which explores design as a tool for for cultural development, is in keeping with the goals of the homage to Little Syria. The plan for the park, and the current exhibit, Little Syria: An Immigrant Community’s Life and Legacy, both are public works in conversation with important issues of our time-locally and internationally. At a time when many Arab-Americans are seeking out de-escalation training, the tribute to the region’s cultural contributions is refreshingly welcomed. The park is estimated to be open to the public in 2019.