Joint Effort by RIOC and Hudson Makes Its Debut

RI Welcome Monument Unchained

Updated 1 year ago David Stone
RI Welcome Monument, opening weekend. Most arrivals were not visibly impressed.
RI Welcome Monument, opening weekend. Most arrivals were not visibly impressed.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

After a series of delays, first caused by resident objections, then by spring and summer rains, Hudson without ceremony took down barriers blocking passersby from interacting with the RI Welcome Monument, the crowning step in upgrading signage supporting Roosevelt Island, its businesses, parks and facilities.

New wayfinding signs and kiosks have been in place in multiple locations on Main Street, although some kiosks await a final polish.

But the bright red Welcome Monument, a pair of eight-foot tall letters designed to catch the eye of Island visitors arriving by Tram is the central piece of artwork. Function's left to other parts of the project.

RI Welcome Monument Unchained

An interesting element, as pointed out by RIOC President/CEO Susan Rosenthal at a committee meeting is the color. Charged with creating a symbol incorporating the well-known "Roosevelt Island Red," researches found that there isn't one.

In fact, there are three in use. Picking the right one from the Pantone color scale was not a simple matter.

The choice was a good one. The monument stands out for its fiery brightness, as intended, clearly visible aslant the lawn in the Tram Plaza from a distance.

Will It Meet Expectations?

Hudson Partner David Kramer who's overseen its general development expects the Monument to become a magnet for photo ops as others like it have in locations around the world. He sees it as a playful embrace for anyone coming to visit or even for residents returning from adventures in the outside world.

A potential cloud on the horizon is Kramer's promise, made before a RIOC Board committee that approved the Tram Plaza as a temporary location, to remove it if residents hate it.

Initial reactions will level out across the spectrum of admirers and detractors, in time. After residents have a few weeks to live with the monument as it is and tourists have done their thing to affect perceptions, The Daily will publish a survey, a simple up or down vote to help the decision to be made.

Among positives is a clean, fresh installation that's impossible to ignore. You can see it from the Tram as you cross the East River. On Sunday, with a full tram landing on the Island in the late afternoon, the Monument caught the attention of two groups who stopped for photos while most walked by with nary a glance.

That, of course, is a totally unscientific sampling, although worth noting.

On the not so great side, the Monument fails its intended mission to feature exciting skyline views of Manhattan for photo ops. The view is routinely unimpressive, even a bit industrial and clunky.

And if you approach from almost all other vantage points, you see not RI but a nonsensical IЯ marking a Queens skyline.

Worst of all, however, as many have noted, the installation obliterates once serene views of the Historical Society's popular Visitor Kiosk which has ably served fresh arrivals for more than a decade. Historian Judy Berdy complained loud and long about it before Hudson insisted on this location for its Monument.

That misstep alone may be enough to sink it for residents who've made it known the monument ought to add without taking anything significant away.


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