Photo Courtesy of the Borough President’s Office
Katz (c.) called the new plaza “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.”
By Forum Staff
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz on Tuesday hosted the ribbon-cutting for the newly-restored “Women’s Plaza in Queens,” a public space dedicated to borough females.
The plaza is located in Kew Gardens at the northeast corner of Union Turnpike and Queens Boulevard, adjacent to Borough Hall, on the site of the “Triumph of Civic Virtue” statue.
“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.”
“Civic Virtue” was a 17-foot-high marble statue that depicted a male nude standing on top of two female figures representing “Vice” and “Corruption.” It was commissioned by Mayor George B. McClellan, Jr. in 1909 and designed by Beaux-Arts sculptor Frederick MacMonnies. The statue was installed and resided at City Hall until it was relocated by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia in 1941 to the grounds of the then-new Queens Borough Hall, where it remained for over 70 years. “Civic Virtue” finally found a permanent home in December 2012 at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, where MacMonnies’ father, mother and brother are interred, Katz noted.
In 2014, Katz endorsed former Borough President Helen Marshall’s idea to repair and restore the remaining structure and surrounding plaza, and to repurpose and dedicate it to the women of the World’s Borough.
The base that is the centerpiece of “Women’s Plaza in Queens” remained in place after “Civic Virtue” was removed, but its condition had deteriorated due to prior years of neglect and exposure to the elements. The base was recently repaired and cleaned as part of a restoration project funded by Katz and Mayor Bill de Blasio, which began in May 2016 by the City Department of Design and Construction and contractor Perspective Construction Company. The $960,000 capital project restored the damaged stonework, improved landscaping, and installed plantings, new lighting and benches for public use. The site now also includes a ceremonial plaque indicating that the plaza has been rededicated in honor of the women of Queens.
“The recently completed renovations for the new ‘Women’s Plaza’ will enhance the community while paying tribute to the women of Queens,” said U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing). “Thanks to Borough President Katz, and all involved in this initiative, for working to recognize the women of our great borough.”