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QNS/File photo
QNS/File photo
The fenced-off former site of the Civic Virtue statue in Kew Gardens.

Workers have begun transforming the former site of the controversial Civic Virtue statue near Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens into a public green space, according to Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

Contractors are repairing damaged stone work at the base of the fountain upon which the statue — now a resident of Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn — once stood at the corner of Union Turnpike and Queens Boulevard. New landscaping, lighting and benches will also be installed.

The $720,000 project also includes the installation of a plaque rededicating the site in honor of all the women of Queens, Katz said in an announcement Tuesday. For many, it’s symbolic of the removal of Civic Virtue itself, as the marble sculpture of a naked man standing atop two female sirens was considered sexist.

“This restoration project will create a fitting tribute in a prominent location in our borough’s civic center, dedicated to the women of Queens,” Katz said. “The site will soon host a visible, meaningful tribute to the women of Queens and become a public space utilized and enjoyed by all.”

Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz and state Senator Leroy Comrie also expressed approval of the project in statements on Tuesday.

“This new public space will now be able to be enjoyed by everyone, and will contribute to the quality of life enjoyed by the residents of our borough,” Koslowitz said.

“It is a testament to the dedication and commitment of these outstanding public servants (Katz and Koslowitz) that Queens residents will have a beautiful, newly restored public space to enjoy,” Comrie added.

Commissioned in 1909 by then-Mayor George McClellan Jr., Civic Virtue was designed by sculptor Frederick MacMonnies and architect Thomas Hastings and was originally placed outside of City Hall. It was controversial from the beginning, as many questioned the use of a male figure to represent virtue and female figures to represent vice and corruption.

800px-CivicVirtueStatueKewGardens2007

Civic Virtue as it appeared in Kew Gardens in 2007 (photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia had the statue moved away from City Hall in 1940; according to reports, he hated looking at the statue’s backside while traveling to and from work every day. The statue was moved to a location near Borough Hall after its completion.

In 2012, after protests from residents and elected officials who found Civic Virtue offensive, the city had it moved from Borough Hall to Green-Wood Cemetery, where MacMonnies is buried. The statue removal and restoration at the cemetery cost the city $100,000.

The city Department of Design and Construction is directing the restoration of the Kew Gardens site, which is expected to be completed in the spring of 2017.

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Chicklet May 06, 2016 / 12:33AM
Who votes for these idiots? They can't spend taxpayer money fast enough, wasting almost a million dollars on this forlorn site where nobody is going to sit on the benches Ms. Katz will spend our cash on. Until the taxpayers wake up and realize they have a choice (these corrupt clowns were elected with just a few thousand votes while most people stayed home) people like Katz, Comrie and the rest of 'em will get rich at our expense. Vote the bums out!!!
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joe May 04, 2016 / 05:40PM
Let’s see: Illegal conversions, illegal truck driving on residential streets, horrible roads and sidewalks, illegal garbage dumping, smashed & unlicensed cars parked on streets, polluting waste stations in residential areas, illegal curb cuts are just some of the issue that asshole Queens President Borough Katz and obese Leroy Comrie should concern themselves with, not this BS over what they call a “sexist Civic Virtue” statue and instead are spending over $700,000 dollars for a project to honor the women of Queens, you mean honoring a-hole females like Melinda Katz and her predecessors like ding-bat Helen Marshall and Claire “Bulldog Face" Schulman, those fine and upstanding public servants. Another politician, Karen Koslowitz said “This new public space will now be able to be enjoyed by everyone, and will contribute to the quality of life enjoyed by the residents of our borough.” REALLY this is going to contribute to the quality of life when none of you f**ks even address quality of life issues that have plagued this borough. The Civic Virtue statue of a naked man standing atop two female sirens was considered sexist. It was controversial from the beginning, as many questioned the use of a male figure to represent virtue and female figures to represent vice and corruption. Lucky that is not Comrie on top. But hey with females like Katz, Marshall, Schulman, Vivian Cook and Shirley Huntley, they do represent VICE AND CORRUPTION, so what is the issue. https://cleanupjamaicaqueens.wordpress.com/
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