Prospect Park

JFK Memorial At Prospect Park's Grand Army Plaza Is Rededicated

Tuesday, August 24, 2010
No. 71

Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe and Prospect Park Alliance President Tupper Thomas today joined Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, City Council Members Steve Levin and Letitia James, Assembly Member Joan Millman, sculptor Neil Estern, Parks Director of Art and Antiquities Jonathan Kuhn, and Prospect Park Alliance VP of Design and Construction Christian Zimmerman to unveil and rededicate the memorial bust of President John F. Kennedy. At the ceremony, Commissioner Benepe read personal statements from President Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy and President Kennedy’s primary speechwriter, Ted Sorensen.

“Nearly 50 years after his election, we are thrilled to rededicate the bust of President John F. Kennedy at Grand Army Plaza,” said Commissioner Benepe. “We hope that new generations of New Yorkers will be inspired to meet President Kennedy’s commitment to creating a more just society and peaceful world as they gaze upon his likeness. I am grateful to Neil Estern for improving on sculpture that is even richer in detail than the bust which preceded it.”

“It’s so wonderful to have the JFK monument back at Grand Army Plaza,” said Prospect Park Alliance President Tupper Thomas. “Neil Estern’s bust of Kennedy rejoins the great heroes of the republic depicted on the Memorial Arch, and the lovely figures of the Bailey Fountain, to complete what is one of the most impressive public spaces to be found in any city in the world.”

Neil Estern’s original bust of President Kennedy was unveiled at Grand Army Plaza on May 31, 1965. In attendance at that ceremony were Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Ethel Kennedy, Mayor Robert Wagner, and Borough President Abe Stark. That bust remained in place until 2002 when the Department of Parks & Recreation and the Prospect Park Alliance began a major restoration of Grand Army Plaza. The installation of a new, granite pedestal for the monument offered Mr. Estern an opportunity to resculpt his bust of the 35th President. The new, larger and more detailed sculpture was recast in bronze at the Beacon Fine Art Foundry in Beacon, NY.

Neil Estern was born in Brooklyn in 1926 and resided in the borough for over 50 years. His commissioned portraits include two statues for the FDR Memorial in Washington D.C., Fiorella LaGuardia, J. Robert Taft, J. Edgar Hoover, Jimmy Carter, and Prince Charles and Lady Diana. It is Mr. Estern’s intent that the viewer not only recognize his characters, but also feel that he has recreated the aura of that particular personality.

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The Bailey Fountain is turned off in preparation for the plaza's renovation, which is slated to begin in July 2022. Visit the Prospect Park Capital Projects Tracker to learn more about the project.

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