MOIA unveils Immigrant Heritage Plaza at Bowling Green Park in Lower Manhattan

by Ricky Rillera

Immigrants from Ecuador proudly display their country’s flag | Photo by Farilicious via Twitter

NEW YORK – A section within Bowling Green Park, originally known as “Public Place,” was renamed Immigrant Heritage Plaza on January 18 to honor all immigrants that built New York City, beginning with the first immigrant Jose Rodriguez. He arrived in 1613 in the Hudson Harbor aboard a Dutch ship.

Manuel Castro, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), led the historic unveiling of the park located south of Bowling Green Park. He was joined by NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue, NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, and diverse immigrant communities.

“I am incredibly proud of the collaboration between city agencies, Bowling Green Association, and all our community partners for the naming of Immigrant Heritage Plaza,” said Castro. “This plaza will serve as a reminder of the countless contributions that immigrants have made to our city throughout its history, and as a source of inspiration to future generations of immigrants and New Yorkers.”

Bowling Green is a small public park listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It sits next to the site of the original Dutch fort of New Amsterdam, built in 1733, and is the oldest public park in New York City, surrounded by its original 18th-century fence. At its northern end is the Charging Bull sculpture.

“We’re proud to rename this plaza “Immigrant Heritage Plaza” in collaboration with our great partners at our sister agencies, and the Bowling Green Association,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “The renaming of Immigrant Heritage Plaza sends a strong message about the importance of immigrants to our city’s past, present, and future.”

NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez noted the streets and public are sacred areas where New Yorkers not only move about but also celebrate their city’s rich cultures. “That is why I am proud to support Commissioner Castro of the Mayor’s office of Immigrant Affairs for the historic naming of Immigrant Heritage Plaza,” said NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “We will continue doing our part to ensure we’re protecting, honoring, and representing the immigrant communities of New York City.”

“Naming the place as Immigrant Heritage Plaza is very significant,” said FilAm Potri Ranka Manis. “It is a landmark honoring immigrants that compose the working class of NYC and the U.S. Immigrants are the backbone of NYC — from health care, construction, arts, restaurants and more.”

NYC Mayor Eric Adams, then-consul general Elmer Cato (both in Barong Tagalog, FilAm NYC deputy mayor Maria Torres-Springer with members of the FilAm community during the Philippine flag-raising at Bowling Green on October 28, 2022 | Photo by Caroline Willis/Mayoral Photo Office

In 2022, MOIA hosted over 15 events at Bowling Green Park to celebrate the heritage of immigrant communities in New York City, including the Philippines, African Union countries, Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, Haiti, Panama, Trinidad, and Tobago, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Pakistan, The Dominican Republic, Peru, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and several others.

At that time, Mayor Eric Adams, donning a barong tagalog, raised the Philippine flag in Bowling Green for the first time. The then-consul general Elmer Cato represented the Philippines, and several community leaders and members highlighted a festive cultural dance.

According to MOIA, nearly 40 percent of all U.S. citizens can trace at least one of their ancestors back to New York City. “Immigrant Heritage Plaza will serve as a place of celebration and reflection of immigrant roots for Americans across the country and recently arrived New Yorkers,” MOIA said.

You may also like

Leave a Comment