YU Dedicates 185th Street Plaza With Opening Ceremony
The 185th street plaza was officially opened in a ribbon cutting ceremony on the plaza on Tuesday, September 26 at 1:00 p.m. by President Ari Berman and various state, city, and local officials. The ceremony was conducted by Vice President of Legal Affairs Avi Lauer.
A crowd of students, administrators, and government officials gathered in the nearly completed plaza to incorporate the space into the Wilf campus and officially open the space to the public. During the half-hour ceremony, speeches were given by President Berman and NYC government officials including City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, State Senator Marisol Alcantara and Assemblywoman for the 72nd district of New York Carmen De LaRosa. The speakers highlighted the significant relationship between the Jewish community of YU and the large Dominican population of Washington Heights, noting that both communities have been instrumental in shaping Washington Heights and the greater New York City.
In his remarks, President Berman noted that the plaza was the culmination of years of vision, hard work, and fundraising. He added that this plaza should not only be viewed as an addition to the YU community but as an addition to the Washington Heights community as a whole. “It’s a place for our entire community,” President Berman said.“This is a special place,” he added, “Yeshiva University is a special place and our mission of thinking [is] not just of ourselves but how we affect our larger community around us and our broader society.” Rabbi Berman stated he hopes that the plaza will continue to be “a place of quiet and of peace and tranquility in the midst of this bustling city.”
Many of the speakers noted the importance of the plaza for reasons beyond its ability to unite the disparate elements of the community. Councilman Rodriguez spoke about the importance of the plaza as a way of providing security and peace of mind to local residents. “This is not only about making a place for the pedestrians,” Councilman Rodriguez remarked, “but about the safety of this institution. We have to be sure that we are prepared for [whoever may go] after any of us.”
The project took over a year to complete and is still not entirely finished. It involved significant state funding as well as donations from private investors to fund the $3.6 million project. Assistant VP of Government Affairs Phil Goldfeder, who has begun his transition out of his role at YU, said that the completion of the plaza would be a fantastic addition to a growing campus and would give students and members of the Washington Heights community the ability to interact with each other in new ways.
YSU President Zach Sterman gave remarks on behalf of the student population of the Wilf campus. Expressing gratitude for the efforts that went into making the plaza possible, Sterman said that a communal space can speak volumes about the values and ideas of an institution. He noted that the plaza is a direct reflection of the school’s and the community’s value of safety and unity.
“This plaza is an integral part of the environment we have here and it sets the tone for what we can accomplish on the Wilf campus,” he said.
Photo Credit: YU Flickr