By Caroline Benveniste
In the April issue of WestView News we featured a photo of the “Triangle” park on Greenwich Avenue between 11th and 12th Streets and asked readers what they thought the park should be named. We received quite a few responses, all in favor of a name honoring St. Vincent’s (St. Vincent’s Park, St. Vincent’s Hospital Park, St. Vincent’s Triangle Park, etc.) with only one respondent suggesting “The AIDS Memorial Park at St. Vincent’s Triangle”. We also received a moving letter from Sister Jane Iannucelli, President of the Sisters of Charity, which we include below:
As President of the Sisters of Charity of New York, I am writing in response to the ongoing discussion surrounding the name of the “Triangle” park on Greenwich Avenue between 11th and 12th Streets. Since its inception, the park was designated to recognize both the AIDS crisis and the contributions of St. Vincent’s Hospital to the people of Greenwich Village and the City of New York, and rightfully so as both were absolutely integral to the fabric of the community.
As you know, St. Vincent’s Hospital provided much needed care for all in our beloved city, particularly the poor, from 1849 to 2010. Situated in the epicenter of the AIDS crisis, St. Vincent’s Hospital emerged as a leader in providing compassionate care when the mysterious disease was ravaging our neighbors. It is truly fitting and just that this park should be the site of the New York City AIDS Memorial but to exclude St. Vincent’s Hospital—for 161 years an iconic institution of care for all in need in the City of New York—would be a great injustice to the community and to the entire city. As a native New Yorker I strongly believe that the history of the City of New York is incomplete with-out recognizing the contributions of St. Vincent’s Hospital. It is a legacy to be shared and celebrated by all New Yorkers, particularly the Greenwich Village community. St. Vincent’s Hospital Park is also a fitting tribute to all who cared for the people of our great city with kindness and compassion, as well as to those who were served. The original intention to provide a site for the AIDS Memorial and to recognize St. Vincent’s Hospital side by side on these hallowed grounds should most definitely be honored.
Sister Jane Iannucelli
President, Sisters of Charity of New York
One letter we received provided an interesting perspective. It was from a member of the AIDS Monument Committee and he argued that the park should be called “St. Vincent’s Park”, not the “New York City AIDS Memorial Park” because there already is an AIDS Memorial in the Hudson River Park. He describes the setting of the black granite monument and concludes poignantly: “In a few weeks, red roses will bloom around the AIDS Memorial. It’s quite a remarkable and beautiful site.”
Even the AIDS Memorial organization initially appeared on-board with naming the park after St. Vincent’s. Their website had a rendering of the future memorial with the caption: “View the design for the New York City AIDS Memorial at St. Vincent’s Hospital Park.” This was on display until April 8th when the caption abruptly changed to: “View the design for the future memorial at New York City AIDS Memorial Park”.
Perhaps they had been buoyed by the success of their letter-writing campaign in which they exhorted their members to “Sign, Send, and Attend!” and went on “It is only fitting that the beautiful park that
surrounds and supports this monument be named the AIDS Memorial Park.”
The Parks Department will make the final determination on the name. But don’t be too surprised if in spite of neighborhood sentiment it is named “The New York City AIDS Memorial Park.” The elected officials have made their preferences known in a letter to the Mayor and the Commissioner of
Parks and Recreation (see letter above). Not only do they favor the AIDS Memorial name, but in case there was any doubt they add the following verbiage, making it very clear that they wish to exclude St. Vincent’s from the name: “… we urge you to officially name it The New York City AIDS Memorial Park. No additional language is necessary.”
Stay tuned as we continue to report on this story. And continue to send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.