BY COLIN MIXSON |
The Parks Department is planning a $1.2 million restoration of the city’s Vietnam Memorial at 55 Water Street, which sustained significant damage from flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy.
The FEMA-funded restoration work will replace light fixtures throughout the memorial, in addition to handrails, guardrails, signs, granite stonework. Perhaps most significantly it will replace the heavily scuffed and damaged etched-metal map of the Southeast Asian nation where more than 58,000 American soldiers gave their lives in the Cold War-era conflict.
The memorial suffered substantial water damage from flooding during the 2012 superstorm, which fried lights and electrical systems. The guard rails and stone work, in addition to the etched steel map, were also damaged by floating debris, according to a Parks spokeswoman.
Plans for the restoration are expected to be finalized in June, with construction due for completion in mid-2018, when community members can expect a ceremony commemorating the refurbished monument.
The city will, wherever possible, replace all lights, railings, and signage with exact duplicates. But in many cases, the 1985 memorial’s original appliances are no longer in production, so similar, though not identical, appliances will be used instead.
The FEMA funds will also provide for certain flood resiliency measures, including raising lighting along the Walk of Honor six inches above flood level.
The memorial, located at 55 Water Street, was originally Jeanette Park, created in 1884 in honor of the ill-fated naval exploration vessel of the same name, which sunk about 300 miles north of the Siberian coast after it was trapped, and subsequently crushed by shifting ice flows.
The space was rededicated to the soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War — including more than 1,700 New Yorkers who died in the conflict — in 1985 by then-Mayor Ed Koch, with architects Peter Wormser and William Fellows, along with writer Joseph Ferrandino, commissioned to provide designs.
The space was rededicated by then-Mayor Rudy Guliani in 2001 shortly after the attacks on Sept. 11, following a $7 million restoration. The renovation included new additions to the memorial, including a ceremonial entrance at Water Street and South Street, in addition to a black granite fountain.
The Walk of Honor is flanked by 12 granite pylons, on which the names of the 1,741 New Yorkers who gave their lives in the conflict are inscribed.