Recently, I visited the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park. It’s appropriately located on Roosevelt Island in New York City. I’m particularly fascinated by this president with all he had to overcome, both his physical challenges as well as issues that faced him during his presidency. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting his home, Springwood, in Hyde Park, NY as well as the home of his cousin and close confident, Margaret “Daisy” Suckley called Wilderstein. I’ve read the book “Closest Companion” which allows you to read the very personal letters that were exchanged between FDR and Daisy. It’s an incredibly intimate look into his life. I’m also currently enjoying a 7 part series on the Roosevelts on PBS.
We traveled to Roosevelt Island by using the tram that parallels the 59th St. Bridge.
Once on the island, it’s an easy walk down to the southern tip where the park is located and along the way you have terrific views of Manhattan.
The park was the last work of the renowned architect, Louis I. Kahn. His influential works helped define modernism in the 20th Century. Kahn’s involvement with the project as described on www.fdrfourfreedomspark.org
“Kahn revered President Roosevelt. He credited FDR for enabling him to support his family during the early years of his architecture practice through housing and community planning projects that were part of Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. Kahn shared Roosevelt’s desire to enrich the lives of all people. During design review meetings for Four Freedoms Park, conversations often veered off topic, becoming nuanced discussions of Roosevelt and his policies. Kahn’s design makes perfect use of the triangular shape of the Park’s site, emphasizing it, and employing what could be called a forced perspectival parti to draw and focus the visitor’s gaze toward the colossal head of Roosevelt at the threshold to the ‘Room.’ Underlying Kahn’s design is a naval theme, a nod, perhaps, to Roosevelt’s love of and connection to the sea, and to the unique location of the site. The Park design is symmetrical, and the construction drawings themselves are dimensioned off a centerline, as is standard in naval architecture. A sketch of an earlier iteration of the design shows a floating, tug and barge-like structure against the skyline of the city. The final scheme acts as a prow to the island’s “boat.”
A grand staircase greets you as you approach the park, making you feel the drama of arriving.
The the great lawn is in front of you with the statue of Roosevelt at the end.
The promenade of trees are on either side.
The statue of Roosevelt’s head has incredible detail and depth. You can see the United Nations in background which is particularly meaningful since FDR coined the phrase “United Nations” during WWII when describing the 26 nations that pledged to fight together to defeat Germany.
It was an enjoyable day, ending too short because of rain.