On September 13, 2010, dignitaries and citizens of New York gathered to celebrate the first shipment of granite foundation stones for the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park. Honored guests included David Paterson, the Governor of the State of New York; Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of the City of New York; Carolyn Maloney, Congresswoman for the 14th District of New York; Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President; Christine Quinn, Speaker of the New York City Council; and Jessica Lappin, New York City Council Member for the 5th District of Manhattan. Ambassador William J. vanden Heuvel, Chairman of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, presided over the momentous event.
Representatives from the general contractor, F.J. Sciame Construction Co., Inc.; the stone installer, Port Morris Tile & Marble Corporation; and installation materials manufacturer, MAPEI Corporation, participated in the events of the day. The sheer size of the giant granite stones being placed by the Port Morris crew awed all the attendees. During the ceremony, the dignitaries signed their names on a plaque made from MAPEI's Ultracolor Plus grout. Kerapoxy, a 100%-solids epoxy grout, has been specified to fill the joints between the stones, which will be set with masonry mortar. Each block weighs approximately 72,000 pounds.
The park, located at the south end of Roosevelt Island in the center of the East River, will be dedicated to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. A square plaza called “The Room,” 72 feet (21,9 m) on each side with walls 12 feet (3,66 m) high rising on two sides, will highlight Roosevelt's famous "Four Freedoms" speech, delivered on January 6, 1941. “The Room” will pay homage to America's commitment to these freedoms – freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. Granite-paved promenades protected by low granite walls will line the tree-shaded garden that leads to "The Room" at the tip of the park. The tops of the granite walls alongside two beautiful alleys of Little Leaf Linden trees will be engraved with memories from FDR’s – and our country’s – life. Each of the 144 milestone “chapters” will be engraved with a memory and the name of the chapter donor or someone the donor wishes to honor.
In 1972, the original design of the Park was developed by eminent architect Louis I. Kahn, who frequently used bold geometric forms to create his masterpieces. The triangular shape of the garden, surmounted by the square "Room" at its tip, are reflective of his architectural expression. Kahn died in 1974, shortly after he completed his final plans for the Park. In 1975 New York City underwent a fiscal crisis that put the project on hold for more than three decades; but on March 29, 2010, construction began on the site and is expected to be completed in 2011.
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