As the the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 69) convened at UN Headquarters on Tuesday, September 16, local residents braced for mid-town gridlock and the parade of protests aimed at UN leaders. Once again, we’re reminded of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza‘s historic role as Gateway to the UN, enshrining the Rights of Public Assembly and Peaceful Protest. Until the close on October 1, high-level security will extend to the park and surrounding neighborhood Security details are posted on roof tops while boats patrol the East River.
The Assembly’s “General Debate” presents 196 speakers over a period of six days on major issues of international concern, comprising all the 193 UN Member States, as well as the Observer State of the Holy See, the Observer State of Palestine and the delegation of the European Union. In addition, 2000 media accreditations have been processed.
This year’s theme is “Delivering on and Implementing a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda” but much of the discussion will focus on urgent crises arising from ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and South Sudan.
Among the high-level meetings, President Barrack Obama chairs a Security Council Summit on Wednesday to address the growing, pervasive threat of terrorism and ISIS. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convenes a session on Thursday to focus on the Ebola crisis in West Africa.
Climate change is also of great concern. For the first time, at Tuesday’s Climate Change Summit , China committed to making its economy more carbon efficient. President Obama said climate change was moving faster than efforts to address it, and that the US and China had a responsibility to lead other nations. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hailed the collective sense of urgency, saying “never before have so many leaders gathered to commit to action on climate change”.
This is NOT the week for a leisurely stroll through the Plaza. From Sept. 20 to Sept. 30, Hammarskjold Plaza is on high-security or lockdown when state officials visit the United Nations during the General Assembly. Expect marches and protest groups from around the globe, some with amplified sound. Tudor City Place and East 41st through East 47th streets from First Avenue to Second Avenue will be closed while the Assembly is in session.
The garden is closed and barricaded. Trash bins have been sequestered behind barricades.
The NYPD will completely close First Avenue between East 34th and East 49th streets to traffic because of the security required when world leaders congregate by the dozens at U.N. Headquarters. Police will also restrict the use of the eastern parking lane of Second Avenue to law enforcement and emergency personnel only.
Starting June 6, Play Piano in Dag Plaza. Spread the gift of music!
A hand-painted piano installed by the nonprofit organization “Sing for Hope” offers an open invitation to anyone who wishes to play during its 3-week stay. Each year, 50 Sing-for-Hope Pianos are hand painted by volunteer artists and donated to schools and community centers after their debut in NYC public spaces.
“The pianos serve as a symbol and celebration of art for all,” says project coordinator Chris Sweatt. “Last year, the pianos had a one-hundred percent survival rating due to our protective tarps and piano-buddy system.”
Anyone can step up and tickle the keys, children included. The program also provides featured artists to be announced.
The piano in Hammarskjold Plaza will be located in the “lounge area” between Dag’s Patio Cafe and the cobblestone entrance to the Katharine Hepburn Garden. This more protected placement enhances cafe ambience and invites visitors to explore the newly planted garden. If you would like to schedule a Noon or Happy Hour performance, contact FDHP and we will post on chalkboard. Let’s have some fun!
Credit: “With Liberty and Jazz for All” painted by Jennifer Kakaletris Boyar
BE A “PIANO BUDDY”
We need volunteer “Piano Buddies” to cover the piano with a tarp when rain is forecast. Please call 826-8980 and leave your contact information
Due to heavy rain forecast for Saturday, the event will take place on Sunday. Tents will cover sound equipment and cake–but bring your umbrella in case of a light spring shower. Pretend we’re in England where ceremonies in the rain are common. Free hugs for Mom on Mothers Day!
See the thousands of new plants in Katharine Hepburn Garden. The newly laid path will keep your shoes dry and out of the mud. Springtime showers bring lovely flowers!
It’s been 20 years since the first Katharine Hepburn Garden Party, and this one is VERY SPECIAL. Come see thousands of new plants in the garden, the result of a major rejuvenation project by FDHP. As you stroll the newly-laid path, enjoy quotes by the famous actress who helped preserve the trees and charming character of Turtle Bay. We continue to partner with the Turtle Bay Association on this popular annual event that kicks off spring with live music and free cake. This year, cabaret and Broadway singer Hannah Harding entertains with favorites from the Great American Songbook. Come meet your neighbors and get to know this legendary park and neighborhood.
Saturday, May 13, 1pm to 3 pm. Rain-date May 14, same time. The Katharine Hepburn Garden is located in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, East 47th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues in Manhattan.
Hamptons-based artist Phyllis Hammond has created five new sculptures for Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, entitled Tempo, Alien, Flying, Gateway, and Sign of Freedom. Exhibited together under the title Beyond the Edge, the steel and aluminum sculptures feature narrow stem-like bases topped by whimsical, kinetic elements that rotate in the wind. Hammond uses an improvisational method to create her colorful, large-scale sculptures. The metal cutouts are based on playful, looping doodles on paper that she scans and modifies using a computer program. Once the drawings have been refined digitally, the designs are cut from sheets of metal using a water jet machine. After the metal shapes are hammered, bent and welded into curved shapes, they are powder-coated with brightly colored paint.
Santa will make a stop at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza on Dec. 14, at 5:30 PM to join in the Tree-Lighting Ceremony. Then he’ll lead kids to cookie decorating and cocoa at the Vanderbilt Y. Ho ho ho! Let’s all go!
Members vote for officers and directors of Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. A financial review is presented, followed by committee reports. Light refreshments served. Find out what goes on behind the scenes and how you can participate as a volunteer; join a committee. Help make our neighborhood’s central greenspace even better!
WHEN: Friday, November 18, 2016, 6 PM
WHERE: Vanderbilt YMCA, 224 East 47th Street, Ground Floor
Hundreds of pumpkins to decorate, fun bouncy castle, face-painiting, balloon critters and more. Take family photos among the hay bales and mums on the Plaza. Enjoy brew, bratwurst and wieners for sale at Dag’s Patio cafe with live oompah music in the “beer garden”. Due to rain forecast, the event date was moved to rain-date and will now take place on Sunday, same time.
People are flocking to visit the statue of Saint Teresa on view in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza as the UN General Assembly convenes its 71st Session on Sept. 13. The statue was first unveiled in Battery Park where crowds turned out on Sept. 4 to celebrate the canonization by Pope Francis of the world-famous “Mother Teresa of Calcutta” with a simulcast of the canonization mass. The statue was blessed by Bishop Gerald Waslh, vicar general of the Archdiocese of New York.
At the UN, an exhibition culminating in a conference on Sept. 9 celebrated her works.
Saint Teresa, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, is probably the most famous Albanian in the world, and the occasion brought out New York’s Albanian community in full force. Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, a Bronx Democrat of Albanian descent, organized the Battery Park event. Dancing-with-the-Stars hoofer Tony Dovolani (“born and raised in Pristina”) emceed portions of the program, which included Albanian dancing and singing. “Life can only be measured by how much love you share,” Dovolani said.
Born Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu in Skopje (then part of Kosovo, Vilayet), she founded the Missionaries of Charity, which required adherents to give “wholehearted free service to the poorest of poor.” Her life was devoted to helping suffering, impoverished people around the globe.
Every Saturday morning, our green thumb volunteers gather to tend the Katharine Hepburn Garden. Not all possess a knowledge of plants, but all love the garden and the serenity it brings. Allan at age 90, works circles around us picking up fallen limbs and trash while serving as handyman and engineer. Millie sweeps the stepping stones and polishes the Katharine Hepburn plaques until they gleam. Kim adores plants, but she’s equally adept at drawing a sign to welcome vistiors to the “best kept secret garden.” Bob, an architect, executes a diagram for the new stone work and dives in to plant caladiums. Shivani stays busy sweeping, deadheading and transplanting. Betty drops by and spray-paints a few fence poles. Dannielle, who meditates in the garden, is so happy to have the discovered the group, she’s willing to give anything a try: “Just tell me what to do.” If you would like to join the garden volunteers, just show up before noon on any Saturday. Gardening is healthy and the Katharine Hepburn garden is a really cool place.