Creating a bridge and connecting cultures thanks to an arch.
Mayor Bill de Blasio joined Borough President Eric Adams and other dignitaries in Sunset Park on Friday, October 27 to announce that, after much negotiation and behind-the-scenes work, the long-anticipated Friendship Archway is slated to be installed across Eighth Avenue between 60th and 61st Streets, in the area’s Chinatown.
The archway would be the first in New York City and is a gift from Beijing’s Chaoyang District.
“This announcement came as a result of a lot of work,” de Blasio said, also acknowledging Adams. “In his perseverance, he kept raising the idea and said this is something we have to get done for our neighborhood and for this borough. He doesn’t like bureaucracy when it stops good things from happen so he kept pushing.”
The mayor stressed that New York City has the largest Chinese population outside of Asia.
“We want to honor the amazing contributions of the Chinese community here in our city,” he said. “What is amazing is that the community is big and in a lot of boroughs, but one thing that’s been missing all along is a Friendship Arch. You go to some cities that have a much smaller Chinese population [and have one]. How is it possible that we didn’t have one here? Well, it’s time to get it right.
The borough president, de Blasio continued, “Understood from the beginning that it would send a message to the community all over the city and he wanted to make sure everyone understood that Sunset Park and the surrounding area are now a major global Chinese community right here. This was the right place to have this arch.”
New York City’s Public Design Commission approved the archway’s design at its July, 2017 meeting. It will be managed by the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT).
Adams also discussed the significance of the arch, which will stand 40’-7’’ high, 12’-4” wide, and span 40’-9”
“To those outside this community, it may not seem like it’s a big deal but it is,” he said. “We are going to have a nine roof arch in Brooklyn. It is a status that is given to the most significant area. In Brooklyn, it had to be that magnitude.”
“The Chinese population growth here is the highest among all five boroughs in New York City. The Brooklyn Friendship Archway is extraordinarily meaningful to all people in our community, and it will also stimulate local economic growth, tourism, and the cultural and entertainment industries,” added Paul Mak, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association, which has been serving the burgeoning Chinese community in the borough for some 30 years.
Adams said that he anticipates the arch bringing business to the area.
“That archway is going to be like a magnet,” he said. “We’re hoping when people come here to take a picture of the only nine roofed archway in this country, that they will stop and shop, and develop this great area.
“This is a place that the Chinese community calls home as well as many other ethnic groups,” Adams went on.
“That friendship isn’t just coming to us as manifested in this archway,” added Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, who represents the neighborhood. “It’s coming from us. This is a community that participates civically more every single year.”
Although there seems to be no official timeline, as de Blasio said the arch would be built in the next couple of years, the mayor stressed that Brooklyn was the perfect place for an arch symbolizing friendship to be set up.
“What better place to have that message than in Brooklyn, which is the ultimate example of all of humanity coming together in harmony,” de Blasio said. “It’s not perfect harmony, but it’s pretty amazing what we do in Brooklyn every day and we want to send that message to the whole world.”