New York City will add four new public statues of women.
Billie Holiday performing in New York City circa 1947. Photo by William P. Gottlieb, courtesy the Library of Congress, via Wikimedia Commons.
As part of a campaign to address the extreme gender disparity in New York City’s public statuary, four new monuments to women will be created, helping to ensure that each of the five boroughs has at least one statue of a historic woman. The four new statues will be devoted to jazz great Billie Holiday (in Queens), 19th century civil rights activist Elizabeth Jennings Graham (in Manhattan), women’s and children’s healthcare advocate Dr. Helen Rodríguez Trías (in the Bronx), and lifesaving lighthouse keeper Katherine Walker (in Staten Island).
The new statues join another monument to a woman already in the pipeline. A statue of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman in the U.S. House of Representatives, will be erected in her native Brooklyn. All the new monuments are being created as part of an initiative championed by New York City’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, and dubbed She Built NYC.
“We pledged to do better by the leaders, achievers and artists who have not gotten their due in the histories written by men,” McCary was quoted by the New York Times as saying during a speech announcing the new batch of statues.
The city has not yet selected artists to create the new monuments, but municipal officials expect that process to be completed by 2020, with the first new monuments being unveiled in 2021 and 2022, according to Curbed.