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Congressman Pushes to Make Prison Ship Martyrs' Crypt a National Monument

By Janet Upadhye | March 14, 2014 3:09pm
 The Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument is located at the center of Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn.
Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument
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FORT GREENE — Rep. Hakeem Jeffries has introduced a bill to study the likelihood of making the Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument in Fort Greene Park a National Monument.

If the bill were to pass Congress, and the monument was found to have "historic interest," it would gain a spot next to the Statue of Liberty and Castle Clinton on the list of national monuments.

The structure — a 100-foot-wide granite staircase and 149-foot Doric column — was built in 1908 and serves as a memorial and crypt to hold the remains of 11,500 prisoners who died while in British custody on ships anchored in the East River during the Revolutionary War, Jeffries told the House Natural Resources Committee on Feb. 26.

It is also the centerpiece of Fort Greene Park.

But over the last century the monument has been repeatedly vandalized and neglected, according to Jeffries who said that today the memorial is "more frequently used as a skate park and casual recreation space."

He hopes a "national treasure" status will help protect the structure from continued abuse.

The bill was passed by the House Natural Resources Committee, a spokeswoman for Jeffries said.

The bill will next be placed on the House Floor schedule to be voted on by the entire House of Representatives.

A representative for Jeffries — who serves the 8th Congressional District of New York — will present the bill to Community Board 2 for a letter of support on March 17 at The Brooklyn Hospital Center.