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Women's Plaza in Kew Gardens Reopens With No Tribute to Women

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | July 21, 2017 5:01pm | Updated on July 24, 2017 7:07am
 A public plaza in Kew Gardens dedicated to honoring women reopened after a months-long renovation.
A public plaza in Kew Gardens dedicated to honoring women reopened after a months-long renovation.
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

QUEENS — A public plaza in Kew Gardens seeking to honor women reopened after a months-long renovation earlier this week, but currently contains no tribute to women.

The space, at the intersection of Union Turnpike and Queens Boulevard near Queens Borough Hall, is located where the Triumph of Civic Virtue statue previously stood for about seven decades.

The controversial statue, which showed Hercules with the sirens of Vice and Corruption, was removed in December 2012, and local elected officials then decided to replace it with a public plaza to honor Queens women.

But when the site reopened earlier this week — coinciding with Mayor Bill de Blasio moving his office to Queens Borough Hall for a week — the stonework at the base of the fountain was cleaned and restored, but the plaza featured no plaque dedicated to women.

A spokeswoman for Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said that “the restoration of the plaza fountain at Borough Hall is near completion, with the stonework repaired and newly installed lighting and benches for public use."

"Upon the arrival of the new plantings and ceremonial plaque, we will schedule a public dedication ceremony in honor of the women of Queens," she added.

It was not immediately clear when the plaque will be installed and whose names will be on it.

Photos: DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

Local residents seemed pleased that the plaza reopened.

"It's a busy intersection so it's nice to finally have a place to sit down and relax," said Robert Sobul, 44, a local resident who was passing by Thursday afternoon.

But others said they were surprised the renovation took so long.

"It's already been two years and it's not even done," said Alex Rodriguez, 55, who works at a nearby store.

The site generated its share of controversy after the Triumph of Civic Virtue statue, which had been denounced by some as sexist, fell into disrepair.

It was removed in 2012 despite protests from Community Board 9, and was later installed and renovated at Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery, where relatives of the statue's sculptor, Frederick MacMonnies, are buried.

In 2015, the city opened a bid for the proposed plaza, estimating the construction would cost between $500,000 to $1 million.

Work was expected to start in the fall of 2015 and take about a year to complete, the Department of Design and Construction said at the time.

The DDC did not immediately return multiple requests seeking comment.