David Stone

 

FDR Four Freedoms to Roosevelt Island: Thanks a Million!
Photo by Cory Antiel for FDR Four Freedoms Conservancy

It's 2005, and William J. vanden Heuvel digs his heels in, determined to see the four acre park Louis Kahn designed to honor Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the Island named after him built. A former U.N. ambassador, vanden Heuvel sees his efforts rewarded in 2012 when FDR Four Freedoms Park opens. Yesterday, just six years later, the most serene outdoor space in New York City welcomed its one-millionth visitor. Conservancy CEO Howard Axel thanked Roosevelt Island for being the park's home.

As Fall for Arts Festival 2018 drew a stream of visitors to FDR Four Freedoms Park, officials knew they were close. Confetti was ready to fly when the one-millionth walked through the gate.

FDR Four Freedoms to Roosevelt Island: Thanks a Million!
Photo by Cory Antiel for FDR Four Freedoms Conservancy

On October 17th, 2012, Tom Brokaw, master of ceremonies, introduced speakers President Bill Clinton, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and members of FDR's family to an opening ceremony on Roosevelt Island. A week later, on October 24th, the first visitor walked on a freshly planted lawn that tapers gently downhill, between columns of youthful trees, to a bust of the park's namesake and a solemn space where the four freedoms Roosevelt set permanently in world history are honored.

Not quite six years later, the counter starts on the second million.

FDR Four Freedoms to Roosevelt Island: Thanks a Million!
Photo by Cory Antiel for FDR Four Freedoms Conservancy

In the meantime, the park's versatility has been displayed as it opened for internationally significant events like Hillary Clinton's formal announcement as a presidential candidate and more casual happenings like Manhattanhenge where visitors cluster to watch a summer sunset radiate down city streets.

There's been much in-between, but as FDR Four Freedoms Park evolved into a kind of meditative oasis, it embraced the local community, which like the park isn't limited to its physical space.

Both swell with extraordinary meaning.

It's a powerful match.

On October 6th, 2018, both had reason to be proud of itself and each other.