After five years in the making, The New York City AIDS Memorial was unveiled at a public dedication the morning of World AIDS Day, December 1. The ceremony featured speeches and performances from public officials, celebrities, members of the HIV community and the team responsible for creating the memorial.
The structure is located at what is now called The New York City AIDS Memorial Park at St. Vincent’s Triangle, a newly created park in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village across from the former St. Vincent’s Hospital, which was the ground zero of AIDS during the early years of the epidemic. It’s also less than a block away from the LGBT Center, where ACT UP was formed.
The memorial includes an 18-foot white canopy structure that creates repeated triangular patterns. At the center lies a fountain around which engraved stone includes sections of Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself.”
A tribute to the over 100,000 New Yorkers who have died of AIDS-related illness, the memorial project was launched in 2011 by Christopher Tepper and Paul Kelterborn, according to a press release about the dedication.
“The New York City AIDS Memorial Park at St. Vincent's Triangle honors the best of our city,” said New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, in the release. “From the dedicated medical staff of St. Vincent’s who served Greenwich Village for more than 150 years, to the New Yorkers who bravely came together during dark early days of the AIDS crisis, this beautiful new space pays homage to the generations of courage and care that make this the Greatest City in the World.”
“More than 35 years after the AIDS epidemic first devastated New York, this battle is finally nearing its end,” added New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. “This memorial is both a tribute to the thousands of men and women who lost their lives to AIDS, as well as an enduring symbol of our commitment reducing the number of HIV infections statewide. By taking a comprehensive approach that includes more testing, cutting-edge treatment, and increased access to new drugs, we have transformed this state into a place where new transmissions are rare and those living with this disease can enjoy a full, healthy life.”
According to the press release, speakers at the dedication included:
- Dr. Mary T. Bassett, New York City Health Commissioner
- Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President
- Brad Hoylman, New York State Senator
- Corey Johnson, New York City Council Member
- Melissa Mark-Viverito, Speaker, New York City Council
- Kamilah Aisha Moon, celebrated poet
- Billy Porter, Tony Award–winning performer
- Scott M. Stringer, New York City Comptroller
- Lillias White, Tony Award–winning actress
- Dr. Howard Zucker, New York State Health Commissioner
For more about the memorial, visit nycaidsmemorial.org and read the blog “Love Ya Walt Whitman, but Does ‘Leaves of Grass’ Belong on an AIDS Memorial?”
To purchase a limited-edition print of the memorial’s logo, visit the POZ holiday gift guide here.
Below is a collection of Instagram posts from the dedication:
Crowds gathered for the opening of the New York City AIDS Memorial in observance of #WorldAIDSDay. Designed by Studio AI, the monument's angular canopy stands above granite engraved with Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself." In last month's American Influence Issue, our cover subject #JennyHolzer, who designed the installation, reflected on the height of the AIDS crisis. Read the full story on surfacemag.com. #surfacemag . . . . . . . . #nycaidsmemorial #studioai #aidsmemorialpark #architecture #nycarchitecture #waltwhitman #aistudio