New York City’s AIDS memorial has been many years in the making, but as of today—which also happens to be World AIDS Day—the abstract monument is officially a part of the urban fabric of Manhattan. City officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council member Corey Johnson, joined activists and community members for the dedication of NYC AIDS Memorial Park in the West Village, which serves as a poignant, permanent monument to those who lost their lives to the disease.
The memorial is located in St. Vincent’s Triangle, across from the former St. Vincent’s Hospital on Seventh Avenue. The setting is, of course, symbolic: St. Vincent’s opened the country’s second dedicated AIDS ward in 1984, and was considered “ground zero” for patients who suffered from the disease in its earliest years. And though St. Vincent’s officially closed its doors in 2010 (the buildings that made up the complex have gone condo), its important role in helping AIDS’s earliest victims is now memorialized forever.
The memorial itself was designed by architecture firm Studio a + i, and is made up of several components. An 18-foot metal canopy, made from three connected triangles, is the most visible part of the monument. The ground beneath is an installation by artist Jenny Holzer, who incorporated words from Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself” into the design.
Today’s event also featured a performance by the Gay Men’s Chorus, along with a reading of names of those who died as a result of the AIDS crisis.