Park 51 Opens to the Public

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Park 51 opened to the public today.

Just around the corner from AN’s office sits the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. The image of a police officer guarding the mostly empty cast iron building has become such a part of the landscape, that we barely notice it anymore. But today, the doors were flung open onto a brightly lit gallery space adorned with color photographs of New York children representing almost every nation on earth.

A view from the inside.

A view of from the inside.

Just as Port Authority and Silverstein executives have discouraged the use of the term Ground Zero in favor of the World Trade Center, the proposed community center would no doubt like to shed Ground Zero from its name. The frosted logo on the window simply states Park 51. Literature available at the reception desk describes the vision of a community center “modeled after the Jewish Community Center on the Upper West Side.”

The entrance to the exhibit.

The entrance to the exhibit.

The ambitious project undertaken by photographer Danny Goldfield began after he met Rana Sodhi, a Sikh from Arizona whose brother was killed in a hate crime. Assisted by New Yorkers with backgrounds as diverse as the children in the photographs, the portraits’ playful charm belie the deeper message.

The new gallery storefront.

The new gallery storefront.

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