Daily digest: Olmsted Bicentennial opens at the Library of Congress, New York’s queer beach under threat, and more

Good and Bad News

Daily digest: Olmsted Bicentennial opens at the Library of Congress, New York’s queer beach under threat, and more

Pedro Reyes’s Amnesia Atómica, presented in Mexico City in 2020. (Courtesy Times Square Arts)

Hello everybody, happy Tuesday. In honor of…Tuesday, here’s all the-not-quite-midweek stories you need to know today:

Library of Congress’s Olmsted Bicentennial celebrates the life and work of Frederick Law Olmsted

In honor of the 200th birthday of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Sr., the Library of Congress has erected a display of the landscape architect’s work at the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington, D.C. 

Although perhaps best known for his design of New York’s Central Park, Olmsted’s firm designed hundreds of landscapes, including the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. The diminutive but informative Olmsted Bicentennial showcases his thinking and philosophies around landscape design, public space, and the salubrious effects of parks on public health.

Olmsted Bicentennial will be on view at the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building in the Great Hall East and West galleries through June 4. For those who can’t make it to D.C., the Library of Congress has digitized the Olmsted collection, which can be viewed here.

Birmingham to Re-Vision downtown Linn Park

Officials in Birmingham, Alabama, have tapped OJB Landscape Architecture (née Office of James Burnett) for a master planning process to redevelop Linn Park, a compact downtown green space across from Birmingham City Hall named for Confederate naval officer and businessman Charles Linn. New York– and New Orleans–based Trahan Architects is partnering with OJB on the project.

“From its roots as an industrial center, Birmingham has matured into a vibrant, modern city. As it enters a period of rebirth and reinvestment, parks and open space are a vital part of the equation,” said OBJ President James Burnett, in a statement. “We look forward to hearing the hopes and dreams of all its citizens to make a park that will bring health and wellness benefits, as well as positive social, cultural and economic impacts to the city. Investing in the park is an investment in the future of Birmingham.”

Community consultations for Revision Linn Park kick off next week, on May 19, with more meetings planned for late July and early October. The goal is to produce a design and activation plan that will attract visitors to the park and spur investment in surrounding neighborhoods.

Anti-nuclear art exhibition coming to Times Square

Next week nonprofit arts organization Times Square Arts will present Amnesia Atómica NYC, an exposition that will feature a massive inflatable sculpture by Mexican visual artist and social activist Pedro Reyes

The 30-foot-tall ZERO NUKES will provide “a central platform for a series of public programs and events designed to spotlight the voices of activists, artists, scientists, and community organizations in the anti-nuclear field, and drive conversations around non-proliferation and disarmament.” The nonprofit Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists commissioned the exhibition and curated the programming.

According to a press release, “ZERO NUKES focuses on the ‘zero’ as a graphic, visual, and conceptual element common to all languages. The structure stands as a symbol of global unity for a single non-controversial cause: to avoid the destruction of life on earth.” 

“It is exactly because of what we are confronting around the world today that I created this piece,” Reyes said in a statement. “I’m hoping to provide an invitation for people who want to get engaged, learn from others, connect and create a safer future. I’m trying to provide a megaphone for the disparate voices committed to abolishing nuclear weapons. I’m trying to provide answers for those asking ‘what can I do?’”

Amnesia Atómica is curated by Pedro Alonzo and will be on view in Times Square from May 17–May 24.

New York’s queer beach threatened by hospital demolition project

The agency that oversees New York City’s public hospitals has announced its intention to demolish three buildings near a beach in Queens that’s a longtime haven for LGBTQ+ New Yorkers.

The vacant structures at one end of Jacob Riis Park in Queens’ Rockaways act as a cloister around Bay 1, the portion of the sand that has attracted LGBTQ+ beachgoers since the late 1950s. According to the city’s plan, once the buildings are demolished, the Department of Parks and Recreation would assume control of the parcels and convert them into a park, lifeguard facilities, and parking.

“It’s been a community eyesore for a long time, and there really wasn’t a good plan for it for a very long time,” City Councilmember Joann Ariola told to THE CITY. “I think it’s going to be a positive addition to the community.”

But queer New Yorkers worry that losing their relative privacy will destroy a beautiful informal community that coalesces on the beach each summer.

“There are so many places in New York City that we are not comfortable in. Riis is our home, our dance floor, our marriage place and our burial ground,” Ceyenne Doroshow, founder and executive director of Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society, or GLITS, explained to THE CITY.

GLITS is working on a plan to put the hospital parcels in a community land trust that would ultimately support a health center dedicated to giving care to trans New Yorkers.