Marsha P. Johnson State Park (90 Kent Avenue) will finally get a design worthy of its namesake.
On what would have been Marsha P. Johnson’s 77th birthday, Governor Kathy Hochul announced a new design for the park’s entrance via a press release.
“Marsha P. Johnson was a trailblazer who stood up for what is right, challenged the status quo, and changed the course of history,” Governor Hochul said. “As we celebrate Marsha P. Johnson’s birthday, New York State will continue to honor her story at this newly renovated state park, where we are highlighting her message and carrying it forward for new generations of visitors.”
According to the renderings provided by the NY State Parks’ office, the vibrant and colorful addition to the gateway pays homage to Johnson’s signature flower crowns.
“The gateway will build on newly completed improvements that consist of extensive new landscaping – including a native species perennial garden and ‘Marsha’s hillside’ to honor her love of nature; a new great lawn; dozens of new trees; permeable pathways; new park furnishings; permanent interpretive panels documenting Marsha’s life, work and community; new signage park wide; and a substantial site-wide stormwater management system to improve drainage throughout the park.”Press release from Governor Hochul’s office, Aug 24, 2022
State Assemblymember Emily Gallagher welcomed the news on Instagram. “I am so proud that our North Brooklyn district is home to this beautiful, public waterfront open space that honors her legacy and the ongoing struggle for Black, queer and trans liberation,” the assemblymember wrote.
In 2020, Greenpointers reported that renaming the park from East River State Park to Marsha P. Johnson State Park made it “the first state park in New York’s history to be named after an LGBTQ person.” Johnson was a Black trans* activist instrumental in the 1969 Stonewall Riots and the subsequent fight for LGBTQ rights in New York City.
The unveiling of this particular design comes more than a year after an initial construction plan received pushback from community members and friends of Johnson alike, some of whom felt that covering part of the park with plastic and concrete would not properly honor Johnson’s legacy.
Improvements to the park are still ongoing. Fabrication of the gateway’s design will commence in 2023.
*Editor’s note – “Trans” is not the word Marsha P. Johnson used to describe herself (she often identified as a “transvestite,” “gay,” and a “drag queen,” as “trans” was not a term that was commonly known until the mid-1980s) but it most commonly aligns with the feelings of self and community that she described through interviews or other means during her life.