The Four Freedoms:
1) Freedom of Speech and Expression – the best defense against the corruption of democracy.
2) Freedom of Worship – our shield against the forces of bigotry, intolerance and fanaticism.
3) Freedom from Want – so that hunger, poverty and pestilence can be erased from the earth.
4) Freedom from Fear – calling for international institutions and agreements that will keep the
peace, control armaments, prevent aggression, accept the Rule of Law, and assure social justice.
The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park was the final design Louis I. Kahn worked on before he died suddenly of a heart attack in the bathroom of Penn Station in 1974. The park is also Kahn’s only work in New York City and the only memorial dedicated to FDR in his home state of New York. For more of the park’s history, which is really quite fascinating, please read our previous posts about it.
Though seemingly simple in its design, the park, which sits at the southernmost tip of Roosevelt Island, has received acclaim from some of the city’s toughest architecture critics, and after a visit last week, we were really able to see why many are calling it NYC’s “new spiritual heart.” After meandering across Roosevelt Island, we made our way past the dilapidated and overgrown Renwick Ruin Smallpox Hospital when we finally saw it – a massive granite staircase that seemed to lead up to the sky.
Upon actually climbing the stairway, we saw that it opened up to an immaculate lawn that stretches almost too far to see what is at the end. But we already knew what was there (only because we’d seen renderings of it), and it took a large portion of self-restraint to keep from running down the center of the grass and doing cartwheels on our way to see it. The park’s location and shape give visitors the empowering, energizing sensation of being on a ship that is headed somewhere important and adventurous.
“Memorials take time,” William vanden Heuvel, a former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. and the founder of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute that revived the Four Freedoms Park project, told us last week. “Lincoln died in 1865 and his memorial was completed in 1922, so we’re ahead of the game.”
After today, the park will be open on Thursday-Sunday from 9am-5pm. If you need directions to Four Freedoms Park, here they are.
For more views and observations from inside the park, please click through our photo gallery.
+ FDR Four Freedoms Park
+ Louis I. Kahn
Photos © Yuka Yoneda, except where noted.