There will be no name change for Hell’s Kitchen Park. Elke Fears, President of The 47-48th Street Block Association, told W42ST this afternoon: “We were just informed by the Parks Department that there will be no name change. This is such wonderful news — and a great win — for the Hell’s Kitchen community. Our thanks to the Parks Department for listening to us.”
NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver reversed his decision to rename the park the Lorraine Hansburry Park after pressure from residents. “In response to the Hell’s Kitchen community’s concern about what they believe to be broad erasure of the neighborhood’s name and character, we have decided to restore the Hell’s Kitchen Park. We have decided to honor Lorraine Hansberry at a planned site in the same neighborhood, on the same street, that is yet constructed — it will be known as Lorraine Hansberry Plaza when complete,” said NYC Parks Spokesperson Crystal Howard.
The plan to wipe out the Hell’s Kitchen name was part of the New York City Parks renaming project which was set up to “help us take another visible step in the fight to end systemic racism in our city!” The Parks Department asked park goers to submit their suggestions to rename a park or park space for a prominent Black historical figure or someone who has impacted New York City or your neighborhood.
On Monday, residents reacted angrily to the announcement by NYC Parks to rename Hell’s Kitchen Park with immediate effect and with no community consultation.
“Would Lorraine Hansberry want her name to replace a name which celebrates the identity of a neighborhood, a community family of immigrants and artists and exiles seeking a better life? Would we do better to honor her by being true to her vision?” said Jean-Daniel Noland in a letter drafted to oppose the plan.
The new Lorraine Hansberry Plaza site is currently owned by the Department of Environmental Protection, but once developed NYC Parks will manage it.
Lorraine Hansberry was a playwright and writer who died in 1965. She was the first African-American female author to have a play performed on Broadway. Her best known work, the play A Raisin in the Sun, highlights the lives of Black Americans living under racial segregation in Chicago.