There are thousands of statues scattered across every major city of men, immortalised in powerful stances, embellished with pigeon shit. Now, New York city is pledging four public monuments to women who’ve contributed greatly to the city’s legacy, ensuring that all five boroughs have at least one historical figure that is not a man.
According to Artsy, political and cultural figures have been commissioned. In Manhattan, a statue will be erected of civil rights activist Elizabeth Jennings Graham, and elsewhere the Bronx welcomes women’s and children’s healthcare advocate, Dr Helen Rodríguez Trias. Queens will gain a sculpted figure of jazz icon Billie Holiday, while Katherine Walker, a lifesaving lighthouse keeper, will be displayed in Staten Island.
All of this has happened off the back of the initiative laid out by New York’s First Lady, Chirlane McCray, who started a project called She Built NYC. As she announced a fresh crop of statues, she told the New York Times: “We pledged to do better by the leaders, achievers and artists who have not gotten their due in the histories written by men.”
Already in the works is a statue of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman in the US House of Representatives that will live in Brooklyn.
The news mirrors the Erect More Women campaign that occurred in London after it was revealed that in the UK only 2.7 per cent of statues are non-royal women. “Parliament Square is filled with men,” said 25-year-old advertising creative Holly Hunter. “What about all the other women out there?”