‘Herstory’ was made in Kew Gardens on Aug. 22, as the former site of a controversial statue was officially rededicated to the women of Queens.
On Aug. 22, Borough President Melinda Katz hosted the ribbon-cutting for the newly-restored “Women’s Plaza in Queens,” located on the northeast corner of Union Turnpike and Queens Boulevard near Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens.
“Queens has been home to so many incredible, trail-blazing women across all industries, from business to politics, sports to entertainment,” Katz said. “The Women’s Plaza in Queens – located in our borough’s civic center – is a visible, meaningful tribute to all the women of Queens who have made a lasting positive impact in New York City and around the globe. This newly restored public space at Queens Borough Hall should be utilized by many, and will serve as a reminder of how far we’ve come and how much further we must go.”
The plaza was formerly the site of the controversial “Triumph of Civic Virtue” statue. The 17-foot marble statue, which depicted a male nude standing on top of two female figures representing “Vice” and “Corruption,” was installed at City Hall in 1922. It was relocated by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia in 1941 to the then-new Queens Borough Hall. In 2012, amid calls that Civic Virtue was sexist, the statue was moved one more time from Kew Gardens to the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
After taking office in January 2014, Katz endorsed former Borough President Helen Marshall’s idea to repair and restore the remaining structure and surrounding plaza while re-purposing and re-dedicating the space to women in Queens.
“I congratulate and thank Borough President Katz for creating a beautiful space at Borough Hall where people can relax and women will now be celebrated rather than denigrated,” said former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman, who called for the removal of the original “Triumph of Civic Virtue” statue during her tenure as borough president. She had infamously stated, “A municipal building is not an appropriate place for a statue that portrays women as evil and treacherous.”
Due to years of neglect and exposure to the elements, the base of the Women’s Plaza was in bad condition. As a part of a restoration project funded by by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Katz, the DDC repaired the restored the damaged stonework, improved landscaping, and installed plantings, new lighting and benches for public use.
The site also includes a new plaque to recognize the location’s re-dedication to women.
“The recently completed renovations for the new women’s plaza will enhance the community while paying tribute to the women of Queens,” said Congresswoman Grace Meng.