overview

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history.

The Jane Addams Memorial, in Manhattan’s City Hall Park, inadvertently honors an LGBT individual.

Header Photo
Courtesy of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation.

History

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history. The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project compiled a list of 13 public parks and playgrounds named after gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals, several of which intentionally honor an LGBT individual. This list includes the Jane Addams Memorial, in Manhattan.

This memorial, dedicated in 1935, in City Hall Park commemorates the 75th birthday (and the year she died) of progressive social reformer and activist Jane Addams (1860-1935). It also inadvertently honors her LGBT history. Addams was a leader of the American settlement house movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1889, she co-founded Hull House, the first settlement house in the United States, in Chicago’s poor, industrial west side. Settlement houses were established to provide educational, recreational, artistic, health, and support social services to urban poor and immigrant communities. Hull House also addressed such complex issues as child labor, public health reform, labor laws, and race relations. Addams became internationally respected for her peace activism and won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1931, the first American woman to receive this honor. She had at least two long-term same-sex relationships – one of which, with Mary Rozet Smith, lasted 40 years.

This memorial was donated by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, celebrating Addams’ role as founder.

Sources

  1. Debra Michals, PhD, “Jane Addams,” National Women’s History Museum, 2017, bit.ly/39JjSTj.

  2. “Jane Addams,” The Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame, bit.ly/2YFH3HQ.

  3. “Jane Addams Memorial,” NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, on.nyc.gov/3AHaIBG.

Other Sites in the Neighborhood

Whitehall Street, south of Water/State Streets
New Amsterdam “Place of Execution”
Public Spaces
Wall Street & Broadway / 11 Wall Street
ACT UP Demonstrations on Wall Street
Public Spaces
24 Bond Street
Robert Mapplethorpe Residence & Studio
Residences