Of the more than 1,000 statues across New York City, a mere five are dedicated to women — but not for long.
On Wednesday, First Lady Chirlane McCray and former Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen announced that the city’s boroughs will soon be home to four new statues honoring influential women: the famed jazz singer Billie Holiday; Elizabeth Jennings Graham, a school teacher who refused to get off a street car that banned black people in the 1850s; Dr. Helen Rodríguez Trías, a pediatrician who advocated for children, HIV-positive patients, and mothers; and Katherine Walker, a lighthouse keeper who helped save the lives of those at sea.
Over the past nine month’s, women.NYC, a women-empowerment initiative, has sought to address the unequal gender representation in public spaces through She Built NYC, which seeks to commemorate historical women across the five boroughs. In a press release for the new statues, Glen said, “Today’s announcement marks real action by the City of New York to ensure that our public realm exemplifies the diverse and accomplished women who make this city so great.”
Speaking of the She Built NYC’s launch last summer, Glen said that they promised “this would not be a ‘one and done.” And not only will the city have four new statues of women by 2022, last November, the campaign pledged to build a statue of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress.
Echoing Glen’s sentiments, McCray argued that public monuments “should tell the full history and inspire us to realize our potential — not question our worth.”
She continued: “In honoring these four trailblazers today, New Yorkers will have the opportunity to see powerful women who made history receive the recognition they deserve.”