New entrance at Madison Square Park will highlight monument

A landscape renovation will make the Eternal Light monument, pictured during a Memorial Day ceremony, a focal point of the park. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Madison Square Park Conservancy has announced it will be creating a new park entrance at 24th Street for the Eternal Light Flagstaff.

The conservancy shared the plan at a flag-raising ceremony that was held just ahead of Memorial Day last Thursday.

The conservancy will be working with the United War Veterans Council and the Parks Department to renovate the landscape in the park and give the monument, which is located inside the park facing Broadway at 24th Street, street-facing prominence.

“We have to honor our veterans,” City Councilman Dan Garodnick said, who was at the event. “This is the single most important monument for veterans in New York City and it should be a focal point in the park.”

The project will remove the fencing in front of the monument’s base to create an open plaza and a new entrance at 24th Street. The second phase of the project will upgrade the pavers and the electrical infrastructure in the southern end of the park.

Memorial Day Ceremony last Thursday at Madison Square Park

Architecture firm Lichten Craig designed the new entrance and the work is expected to be complete in time for the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day on November 11 of next year.

The project is expected to cost $2 million and the conservancy has already received a $400,000 commitment from New York Life Insurance Company. The organization is working with the United War Veterans Council to raise the rest of the funds through the city, City Council and from private donors.

The conservancy also restored the star on top of the flagstaff this spring, with support from Zwicker Electric Co. and Con Edison, and celebrated the improvements with a relighting ceremony on Thursday evening. The star had been removed by crane and the lighting was replaced with new fixtures.

The conservancy also cleaned and repainted the star and rewired the flagpole.

The flagstaff was originally dedicated on Armistice Day in 1923 to commemorate the return of US servicemen and women from World War I.

“We fight a lot of seemingly anonymous wars but this war touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of New York families,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said. “This is a vital marker of the sacrifices we made in the Great War.”

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