A small brick building sits at the North end of Sara D. Roosevelt Park in Manhattan, NYC, near the intersection of Stanton and Chrystie Street. The park itself functions as a gathering space for the surrounding neighborhoods - the Lower East Side, Nolita, Little Italy, and Chinatown.
The Stanton Street Building has been promised to be turned over as a community space over a decade ago by the Parks Department, but things have moved slowly in that regard. We joined forces with the Fourth Arts Block, a Lower East Side group that brings together local cultural organizations, artists, and neighborhood nonprofits to advance community health, inclusiveness, and equity through arts and culture. FAB put on a full day of programming, with speeches from organizers and local representatives along with live music, dancing and martial arts lessons, art-making activities, free bike repair services, and opportunities to get involved in the campaign.
For our part, we designed a projection map to fit the three arches of the building, with the idea of showing the history of the park, and an imagined future. As night fell, we filled the “windows” of the building with a timeline of archival images, then invited onlookers to do live drawings of their visions and hopes for the space.
With endlessly rising rents, community gathering spaces are harder and harder to come by in the city. We’re hoping that by drawing attention to the Stanton Street Building, the Parks Department will recall their promise to the communities in lower Manhattan, and work to create a space that will benefit the surrounding neighborhoods. After all, it’s our park.