. . LADY LIBERTY WAS EVICTED-EXILED FOR THIS?!
UPDATE (Aug. 1, 2022): Jim Salengo of DSIC wrote me this morning that: “This is a piece by David Siders (formerly of Experience & Creative Design). He is heading up our landscaping program this summer and has been doing a lot of work in Gateway Plaza. His team recently cleaned up and weeded the bench circle at the northwest corner of the park, so he just placed this piece there temporarily to give a little bit of visual interest. He previously had it in front of our outdoor program shop on Front Street, but it kind of got lost there.”
I’m glad to hear the sculpture is only temporary. I told Jim my relief, and stated the sculpture could not hold a candle [or torch] to the impact and symbolism of Lady Liberty at that location. [See original posting below for explanation.] Maybe the Siders piece can go to the site being planned at the location of the old Nicholaus Building, as part of a revolving series of sculpture, after a refurbished Lady Liberty Replica returns home to Liberty Park at Gateway Plaza.
Four years after Gateway Plaza (a/k/a Liberty Park) was opened to the public, it finally has a sculpture at its Central Sculpture Base. (image above, and those below, taken July 30, 2022) The new sculpture, whose name and creator I do not yet know, is almost exactly where Schenectady’s Lady Liberty Statue stood from 1950 to 2017, until her purportedly “temporary” removal for safekeeping while Liberty Park was redesigned as part of a new Gateway Plaza.
Here’s the new sculpture seen from various perspectives. (Click on a tile for a larger version.)
The sculpture base is the spot where many Schenectadians hoped The Lady would be returned from her exile by Mayor Gary McCarthy and Mary Moore Wallinger. [See our posting “Lady Liberty is Timeless” which brings together many of the issues and events relating to the City’s decision to exile Lady Liberty from Her home at Liberty/Gateway Park, rather than returning the statute to Liberty Park, as stated in the fully-vetted and approved 2013 Gateway Plaza Implementation Plan.]
- The image to the right is a plea we made to McCarthy and Wallinger a few years ago, urging them to Bring Back the Lady and cure the missing spirit of Liberty Park. The central sculpture base was and is the preferred re-location spot, where it is visible to traffic and has ample space and seating for Plaza visitors. Ms. Wallinger had already installed the Rainbow Pride exhibit at the place the Implementation Plan had shown for the return.
I am, of course a bit biased on this topic, but it is clear to me that the choice of this insignificant sculpture further disrespects Lady Liberty, its history, and the wishes of the public, along with basic principles of good government, planning and transparency. Wallinger told us while presenting the Implementation Plan in 2013 that the sculpture chosen for the Plaza would tell a story about Schenectady’s past, present and future. I’m waiting to hear just what “story” or message this new sculpture is meant to convey at the “gateway” to Schenectady. And, just how it will gain the affection and ability to inspire that Lady Liberty already possesses.
From every angle, I believe Lady Liberty makes a more compelling image and symbol of both our past and future, especially with the Rainbow Pride arches, a product of the liberty and Enlightenment values represented by the Statue, just a few yards away.
Here are a few images of Lady Liberty in Her park in September 2016, before park reconstruction caused Her removal. The Replica of Liberty has grace and gravitas the new sculpture (see its logo-signature to the right) is unlikely to ever achieve.
As we’ve argued before, Lady Liberty’s replica best fulfills the stated intention of the Gateway Plaza Implementation Plan to celebrate the past, present and future of Schenectady.
Mayor McCarthy made us wait a couple years, marked first with silence and then silly excuses, before he revealed the current scandalous choice of Erie Blvd. and Union Street for the Exile Location of Lady Liberty, in August 2019. Three years later, the location continues to have no signage denoting the meaning and local history of the Replica, and no plaque telling of its donation by our local Boy Scouts of America and their hopes, as well as no landscaping or floral decorations, as it stands among utility and light poles, without lighting, only a few feet from Smart City surveillance devices.
My guess is that there are few Schenectady residents or visitors who will feel that the long wait for the new sculpture at Gateway Plaza was worth it.
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REMINDER: On November 8, 2021, the Schenectady City Council passed a resolution recommending that our Lady Liberty replica be returned to Liberty Park. Rather than taking this graceful way out and returning the statue to Her home, the Mayor has stubbornly stayed silent and overseen installation of the new sculpture.