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187th Street Steps Slated for Art Project Commemorating Revolutionary War

 The design, known as a "road tattoo" will be installed in the next few weeks.
Steps at 187th Street Slated for New Art Project
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HUDSON HEIGHTS — The steps at 187th Street are about to get a new look.

The Department of Transportation’s Public Art Program has selected the steps, which connect Fort Washington Avenue and Overlook Terrace, as the site of a new art installation. Artist Steed Taylor will create a painted design on the stairs that honor the area’s Revolutionary War history.

The design, which resembles a series of intertwined blue and red knots, is a part of Taylor’s “road tattoo” series.

“A road is to the public body what skin is to the private body,” Taylor said in an artist’s statement. “If people mark their skin as a means of commemoration, communication and ritual, then a road can be marked for the same reasons.”

Taylor has created "tattoos" for a stair street in Kingsbridge, as well as at locations in the South Bronx, Arizona, New Jersey, Florida and North Carolina. Some of his works have honored specific groups, such as survivors of domestic violence or bike messengers who were killed on the job.

For the 187th Street installation, called "Patriot," Taylor wants to pay homage to the soldiers who gave their lives to defend the area that is now Hudson Heights during the Revolutionary War. Specifically, the design honors the 2,838 American soldiers who were captured at Fort Washington by the British and left to die in prison ships.

“I was really taken by what a little oasis this neighborhood is in the city. It’s so bucolic,” Taylor said. “And then to research it further and find out the cost that it took, for all those soldiers to die, made me think.”

Taylor said the design unravels the further it gets from the center to represent the way that the promises of war unravel over time.

A Department of Transportation representative said they hope to begin work on the project next week. It will take about 10 days to complete and will remain in place for a year. One side of the stairway will remain open at all times during the work.