Treasures: Four Freedoms Park


Shaped by the architect Louis I. Kahn, Four Freedoms Park is situated directly across from the United Nations and was completed in honor of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech that changed history.

Four Freedoms park is named for Franklin D. Roosevelt's sobering Four Freedoms speech. Learn the story of how a landfill became a New York landmark.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the only child of James Roosevelt and Sara Ann Delano. The family lived at Springwood, their estate in the Hudson River Valley.

At age 23, in 1905, FDR married Eleanor Roosevelt, with whom he had six children.

FDR served as New York State Senator and Governor. This photo was taken in 1910 around the time he became New York State Senator.

The Great Depression hit in the middle of FDR's governorship. Roosevelt lowered utility rates, reduced taxes and created a state agency to aid the unemployed. Photo: FDR and family

When FDR was elected president in 1932, he enacted an even more ambitious plan for the nation's economic recovery: The New Deal. Photo: FDR and his Mother in Hyde Park, NY (1933).

In 1941, FDR prepared a bold response to critics of U.S. involvement in WWII: His Four Freedoms Speech. Video: Construction on Four Freedoms Park.

FDR died in 1945, but it wasn't until the 1970's that Welfare Island became Roosevelt Island and architect Louis I. Kahn was commissioned to design a monument. Video: Construction on Four Freedoms Park.

"It was the commission of a lifetime and he took it very very seriously." - Nathaniel Kahn (son of Louis I. Kahn). Image: An early sketch of Four Freedoms Park via Louis I. Kahn.

But, in 1974, Louis I. Kahn died and the project was put on hold. It wasn't until early 2010 that workers broke ground on Four Freedoms Park. Photo: FDR statue construction.

In the 1990s, Louis I. Kahn's son made a documentary about his father. In researching his fathers blueprints, he came across designs that had never been built. Among them: The Roosevelt Memorial.

Building the park and memorial on an island presented logistical challenges for the builders. Video: Construction on Four Freedoms Park.

On October 17, 2012, almost three years after construction began, Four Freedoms Park opened to the public.

"As familiar as I was with construction drawings and the design, there are all these amazing things that we discovered as we built the project" - Gina Pollara (Supervising Architect, Four Freedoms Park).

The New York Times wrote that the FDR memorial on Roosevelt Island would "face the sea he loved, the Atlantic he bridged, the Europe he helped to save, the United Nations he inspired."

"In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms." - Franklin D. Roosevelt (excerpted from his Four Freedoms Speech).

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