Online survey on controversial statues launched by the city

An online survey about controversial memorials and monuments in New York City has been launched by the city. Above, the Christopher Columbus statue at Columbus Circle in Manhattan. / Charles Eckert

If you find a particular statue in New York City offensive, here’s your chance to let city officials know about it.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s newly created Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers has launched an online survey that seeks input from New Yorkers.

“With the launch of this survey, every New Yorker has an opportunity to weigh in on monuments in our city’s public spaces,” city Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl, who is the commission’s co-chair, said in an emailed statement. “From asking broadly about the role of public art in public space, to seeking feedback on particular works and a range of ideas for possible interventions, the survey will make sure that every resident who wants to participate in the 90-day review can have a say in the process.”


There are seven questions in the survey, including “What do you think is the role of public monuments in our city’s public spaces?” and “What factors should the City consider when reviewing a monument?”

Survey responses will help shape the commission’s work as the 18-person panel figures out broad guidelines for art on city property, according to Finkelpearl.

New Yorkers have until 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 26 to weigh in.

The commission’s goal, according to Finkelpearl, is to put forth “a thoughtful way to promote more inclusive, welcoming public spaces for all New Yorkers.”

De Blasio created the commission, naming Finkelpearl and Ford Foundation President Darren Walker as co-chairs, in September following the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August that was held in response to the planned removal of a Robert E. Lee statue.

Amid backlash over the rally, de Blasio tweeted he would create a commission to review “all symbols of hate on city property.”

In addition to creating guidelines for art on city property, the panel has been asked to release recommendations on the memorials it reviews. The recommendations will be posted on the city’s website with a description of de Blasio’s “final decision” for each monument.


Among the memorials that some believe should be considered for reevaluation by the panel are the Christopher Columbus statue in Columbus Circle and the statue of Dr. J. Marion Sims in East Harlem. The Columbus Circle statue has proven to be particularly divisive, with some city lawmakers arguing it is offensive to people who come from Caribbean islands and others arguing it is a tribute to Italian American history.

The commission is expected to release its guidelines and recommendations on specific memorials in December.

With Laura Figueroa