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Borough Hall is losing its civic virtue after a city agency ruling.
The City Design Commission ruled Nov. 13 to permanently relocate the Triumph of Civic Virtue statue at Borough Hall in Kew Gardens to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, a spokesman for Borough President Helen Marshall confirmed last week.
Civic Virtue has stood off Queens Boulevard since 1941 when Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia moved it from City Hall. It depicts Hercules triumphing over the sirens of vice and corruption – an image that some see as sexist.
Criticism of the statue from the LaGuardia days crossed the river right along with it, as former Borough President Claire Shulman tried to get it moved and former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner called the statue “offensive” to women — prior to his sexting scandal.
Borough President Helen Marshall’s office said the city’s Public Design Commission approved the relocation of the statue and the space will now honor women.
“Borough President Marshall is pleased that the statue will be restored and will work to see that the base of the statue, which will remain here, will be transformed into a public sitting area with benches and landscaping,” said the spokesman. “She would also like the public area to pay tribute to outstanding women who have made a significant contribution to our borough and city.”
But not everyone is so quick to applaud the relocation of the stone carving. City Councilman Peter Vallone (D-Astoria) said the authorization to move the state was done in secret and he believes there should be time for public comment.
“This is a historically significant statue and the only one of its kind that I know of,” he said. “It’s an allegory for virtue triumphing over vice and corruption – a message that we need today.”
The councilman, who has two daughters, said he does not believe the statue debases women and said “if you think this is anti-woman, then there are lots of other statues out there that you must oppose.”
“This great work of art belongs to the people of Queens, and it should be kept in place and restored to its former glory here,” he said. “A statue in Central Park would never be allowed to fall into disrepair and then be taken away from Manhattan.”
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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