Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park
1 Four Freedoms Park
Roosevelt Island, NYC, NY 10044
Open: Sunday-Monday 9:00am-5:00pm/Tuesday Closed/Wednesday-Saturday 9:00am-5:00pm
Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park is the first memorial dedicated to the president in his home state of New York. Located on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island in New York City, it is the last work of Louis I. Kahn, an iconic architect of the 20th Century. The memorial, which opened to the public in October 2012, celebrates the four freedoms, as pronounced in President Roosevelt’s famous January 6, 1941 State of the Union address: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom of want and freedom from fear.
FDR Four Freedoms Park from a view
As steward of this civic space, Four Freedoms Park Conservancy advances President Roosevelt’s legacy and inspires; educates and engages the public in the ideals of the four freedoms. The Conservancy does this by:
*Safeguarding the memorial as a space for inspired use.
*Fostering community and understanding.
*Igniting conversation about human rights and freedoms today.
On January 6, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his eighth State of the Union address, now known as the Four Freedoms speech. In his address, Roosevelt presented his vision for the world, “a world attainable in our own time and generation,” and founded upon four essential human freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.
Roosevelt’s call for human rights has created a lasting legacy worldwide, forming the basis for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948.
For a richer of FDR, his legacy and the four freedoms, visit fdr4freedoms.org
Franklin D. Roosevelt Island: A History
Originally called Minnahannock by Native Americans and Varkins Island by the Dutch settlers, the island was acquired by the Blackwell family in the 1600’s, who renamed the land Blackwell Island. The Blackwells lived on and farmed it before selling it to the City of New York in 1828 for $30,000.
In the 19th Century, the island was used by the City for institutional facilities, including the Workhouse, Penitentiary, Lunatic Asylum, City Hospital and City Home and given the name Welfare Island in 1921. These institutions served the City until the 1930’s., before gradually being relocated to areas more easily accessible to public transportation.
In 1969, this two-mile island was lease to the State of New York for 99 years. Under New York State’s Urban Development Corporation, Welfare Island became a beacon for the affordable housing movement within the City. Construction of the Island community was completed in 1975 with four housing developments. In 1973, the island was renamed Franklin D. Roosevelt Island.
Today, Roosevelt Island has a small town feel with approximately 20 buildings and 14,00 residents. The island is home to six landmarked structures and proudly houses Four Freedoms Park, one of the original visions for the Island. To learn more, visit the Roosevelt Island Visitor Center at the Tram Plaza.
(Judith Berdy, President, The Roosevelt Island Visitor Center)
A Memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt
Nearly 40 years before the Park opened its gates to the public, Louis I. Kahn presented his vision for what would become Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park. It was a simple idea. “I had this thought,” Kahn said. “that a memorial should be a room and a garden.”
This was 1973. Less than a year later, Khan had died; Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who had announced the project with Mayor John Lindsay, became Vice President of the country and the City of New York neared bankruptcy.
The future of the memorial seemed a fragile and tenuous dream. Yet, through the power and determination of a small but dedicated group, nearly four decades after Kahn completed his architectural design, Four Freedoms Park became the place he envisioned. In 2012, following 30 months of construction, the Park opened to the public. The Park is operated and maintained by Four Freedoms Park Conservancy in partnership with New York State Parks.
Open Daily, closed Tuesday
Free to the Public
Visit fdrfourfreedomspark.org to learn more about the Park and upcoming events and programs.
Part of the New York State of Opportunity: Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
Disclaimer: this information was taken from the NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation pamphlet. Please call the park or email to check on opening times when in season.