Columbus Park


Tuesday, February 5, 2019
No. 9

Announcement coincides with Lunar New Year celebrations around the city

In commemoration of the Lunar New Year, and in partnership with the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) and City Council Member Margaret Chin, the City will make permanent the statue of early 20th-century revolutionary figure and founder of the Republic of China Dr. Sun Yat-sen. The bronze full-standing statue has been displayed as a provisional public artwork in the north plaza of Columbus Park in Chinatown since November 2011, and pending full approval by the Public Design Commission (PDC), will remain there. In addition to making the statue a permanent fixture in the park, the City will, in the coming months, move to officially name the park’s northern plaza for Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

“It is long past time for us to recognize the heroes that represent the true diversity and vibrancy of our City,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “By moving to honor Dr. Sun Yat-sen with a permanent monument, we are also honoring the many Chinese-Americans who call Chinatown, and New York City, home.”

"By making the statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen permanent, we are sending a clear message that Chinese American history matters," said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. "Dr. Sun Yat-sen was a transformational figure in Chinese history, and is considered to be the founding father of the Republic of China. Here in Chinatown he gave a famous speech to the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA). The CCBA was among the organizations which provided financial and moral support to Dr. Sun Yat-sen's efforts on the China mainland. I want to thank the Mayor and Parks for their recognition of the importance of a figure of Dr. Sun Yat-sen to both the Chinese American community and to the City of New York."

“We have proudly displayed the statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen in Columbus Park for nearly a decade, and it is an honor to make it a permanent part of our monuments collection,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FACIP. “Later this year, we will continue to celebrate the City’s Chinese community by officially renaming the park’s north plaza for this profound leader.”

“This is a wonderful way to kick off the Lunar New Year and a wonderful tribute to Dr. Sun Yat-sen. I strongly believe that New York’s greatest strength is its diversity, something that should be reflected in our art and public spaces. I am proud of the Council’s role in advocating for permanent recognition of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, and thank Council Member Margaret Chin for her leadership,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

“Diversity is our greatest strength – that needs to be reflected in every part of our city, including public art,” said Comptroller Stringer. “Today’s announcement means that thousands more Chinese New Yorkers will see themselves, their heritage and history in their city. Representation matters – and on Lunar New Year, this is such a welcome step forward.”

“Dr. Sun Yat-sen was a hero and symbol of leadership for millions of people around the world and here in New York. Making this statue permanent is a fitting tribute to the many Chinese Americans who have make such extraordinary contributions to the life of New York,” said State Senator Brian Kavanagh, who represents Chinatown in Manhattan. "I congratulate the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and the many organizations and individuals in the Chinese American community who have advocated for this, and I thank Mayor Bill de Blasio for his role in getting it done.”

“I am proud to join the community, Mayor De Blasio, and Council Member Margaret Chin in honoring the revolutionary figure and founder of the Republic of China Dr. Sun Yat-sen by cementing his legacy with an everlasting monument," said Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez. "It is increasingly meaningful that New York City public spaces embody the diversity that we represent. Long live his legacy, and Happy Lunar New Year to all who are celebrating!”

“Dr. Sun Yat-sen was a trailblazer for the Chinese diaspora, especially for Manhattan’s Chinatown community,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “As we celebrate the Lunar New Year, I applaud the City for finally making the statue honoring Dr. Sun Yat-sen a permanent fixture after years of advocacy by the community.”

“We are happy to see the statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen becoming a permanent icon in the Chinatown community,” said Eric Ng, President, CCBA. “He learned the democracy idea from the United States and then in 1911 founded the first republic government in Asia - Republic of China. Dr. Sun Yat-sen spent some time in New York City during the Chinese Revolution. In fact, he delivered a speech at CCBA in March 1911 encouraging Chinese-Americans to support the revolution. It will be remarkable to make his statue permanently standing in Chinatown.”

Dr. Sun Yat-sen lived in America and visited New York City a number of times before the Revolution. In fact, in the months leading up to the Revolution, he lived in Chinatown as he finalized plans for the Revolution, and delivered an important speech at the CCBA in March 1911. Once officially approved by PDC, the sculpture will be installed on a newly designed, more durable pedestal. It will be endowed for care by the CCBA, and become a permanent addition to NYC Parks’ monuments collection.

The City is currently undergoing an unprecedented process to diversify its public art collection, seeking input from New Yorkers and actively taking steps to create a New York City where all people can see themselves and their histories represented. The Chinese population in New York City alone accounts for nearly seven percent of the city’s population, and Chinatown has one of the largest concentrations of any community in the Western hemisphere. Columbus Park is the largest and most prominent park in Chinatown; its north plaza is a popular social space for passive recreation, making it an ideal location for this notable work.

Sculpted by prominent Taiwanese artist Lu Chun-Hsiung (b.1973), the statue was selected by unanimous vote of 19 CCBA officers, and presented as a gift from the Republic of China (Taiwan) government in celebration of its 2011 centennial. In the sculpture, Dr. Sun Yat-sen is depicted ruminating on the unstable state of affairs during the victorious revolutionary period, and wearing a Tang jacket with Manchurian dress to represent the merging of China’s diverse ethnic groups. The artist’s combination of a creaseless costume of the East combined with Western-style shoes connotes harmonious cultural fusion of East and West.

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