Tribute Park when it was first begun. Originally published September, 2009.
In the days after the WTC attack on September 11, 2001, when it became clear that Rockaway was perhaps the hardest hit community in the city, a group of Rockaway activists sat down to plan a memorial for the locals who died in the attack.
Everybody agreed that the perfect site was a triangle on the bay at Beach 116 Street, an empty lot from which many Rockaway residents watched the Twin Towers burn and then fall.
That land had recently been used for a one-day Viking Festival, and belonged to the city’s Parks Department. On November 6, 2005, after a lot of controversy and hard work, the park opened, still missing its signature cupola.
Work begins on the park. The fire helmet is the beginning of a memorial that was added to the park plan after the firefighter’s union, angered that the memorial in Manhattan would not list firefighters separately from others who died that day, paid for their own memorial in the Rockaway park. The helmet was sculpted by Rockaway artist Izabella Slobodoff.
Clark with the first incarnation of the mosaic floor that would become the park’s central element.
The park today, at last month’s Tribute In The Park fundraiser.
Patrick Clark’s glass cupola was quickly chosen by the community as the central element of the park. It was to have a ceramic floor. By the time the Parks Department finished with its changes, however, the cupola was moved to the northern corner of the park and its floor became the park’s central element.
Above. A view of the park from the roof of the Sunset Diner on November 6, 2005. Notice that the glass cupola, engraved with the names of all the locals who died at the WTC is not yet in place, and would not be for several months. Left. The mayor joins local activists and politicians for the opening day ceremonies.
A visitor looks at one of the many glass stars, each honoring a person who died.
The memorial bricks were laid in each of the walkways.