Yesterday, FDR Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island, in partnership with the New York Historical Society and the League of Women Voters, unveiled field of sunflowers on the steps of the park in honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. The 12′ x 100′ art installation, (which is a tromp l’oeil that does not contain real sunflowers) will be on display at the park until August 20th and is the result of a year’s worth of planning between the park and its partners.

Sunflower staircase with quote from 19th amendment

The sunflower is a historic symbol of the American Women’s Suffrage Movement, making the display an apt way to celebrate the movement’s benchmark achievement, the passage of the 19th Amendment. The large floral display will be presented on the park’s famous staircase, just like the rainbow staircase from last year’s Pride Month) and will surround the words of the 19th Amendment. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the sunflowers were officially being unveiled on Monday in a ceremony in a socially-distanced event.  We learned at the opening event event that the artwork took half a day to install. Four Freedoms Park expressed its desire to fuel the necessary conversations around the need for equal access to voting — both the historical impact and current implications — in lead up to the “most important election since WWII.”

Closeup of Sunflower Field Staircase

Sunflower Field Staircase with Manhattan skyline

Located on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island, Four Freedoms Park serves as a memorial to New York-born President Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, the park is more specifically designed to commemorate Roosevelt’s famous January 6, 1941 State of the Union speech in which he outlined four essential human freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. With this message in mind, the Park strives to inspire each generation to define and defend President Roosevelt’s commitment to these freedoms, creating programming that is specifically designed to spark contemporary conversations about human rights and freedoms today. Monday’s ceremony, representing the collaboration of the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy, the League of Women Voters, and the New York Historical Society, aims to continue this mission and promote meaningful conversations about women’s rights and voting practices.

Staircase railing and sunflower field at Four Freedoms Park

Four Freedoms Park is open daily from 9 to 5 PM. The commemoration at Four Freedoms Park is just one example of the many creative ways events are still being held during the coronavirus pandemic. Recently, a drive-in movie festival was held in Brooklyn to accommodate for social distancing. Additionally, entire streets in New York have been closed for outside dining. While their is still no scheduled return date for indoor dining in New York City, businesses have been adapting to the situation by creating outdoor dining plazas and other solutions. Other business, however, have closed their doors for good.

Next, check out the Top 10 Secrets of Four Freedoms Park.