Chinatown park plaza renamed for Dr. Sun Yat-Sen with bronze statue

Mayor Bill de Blasio and other leaders joined members of the Chinese community in unveiling the new Dr. Sun Yat-sen statue in Columbus Park, naming the plaza for the famed revolutionary. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

“This statue is finally where it belongs,” Mayor de Blasio said.

One of the most important figures in Chinese history, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, was honored with the unveiling of a statue in Chinatown on Tuesday, his 153rd birthday.

The sculpture of Dr. Sun Yat-sen is now part of NYC Parks’ permanent art and monuments collection, unveiled in the northern plaza at Columbus Park, renamed in his honor. The statue by Taiwanese artist Lu Chun-Hsiung was a gift from the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Mayor Bill de Blasio was joined by Council Member Margaret Chin, a major proponent of the renaming of the plaza in the park, and members of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. They were also joined by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Republic of China (Taiwan) Overseas Community Affairs Council Minister Hsin-hsing Wu.

“This statue is finally where it belongs,” said de Blasio before a cold and shivering crowd moments before the statue, covered with a red veil, was revealed. “This is a moment to recognize who we are as New Yorkers — a great man in history who came here to this city to build support for the cause of the republic that he would found. He came here to soak in the ideals of this place and its commitment to democracy and that all people matter. We are honoring not only Dr. Sun, but the ideals that he is a great example.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio talks about the new statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen and the plaza named in his honor. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Chin said she fought eight years to rename the plaza for Dr. Sun and bring the statue to its permanent home.

“Since 2011, the community has fought to give the Dr. Sun Yat-sen statue a permanent home in Chinatown, and I am proud that this revolutionary leader’s legacy will be memorialized for generations to come through the naming of the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Plaza at Columbus Park,” said Chin. “Today, we aren’t just recognizing the importance of Chinese American history – we’re recognizing the critical role that Chinatown has played within global history.”

Dr. Sun Yat-sen was born on Nov. 12, 1866, in China during the Qing Dynasty. Inspired by the American Revolution, Dr. Sun envisioned a free and democratic China and became a pioneer in its reform. In 1911, he and his allies overthrew the regime, ending 5,000 years of Chinese imperial rule.

Dr. Sun lived in Chinatown as he finalized plans for the Revolution and delivered an important speech in New York City to the CCBA in March of 1911.

The sculpture depicts the early-20th century revolutionary figure and founder of the Republic of China in a standing contemplative pose. It is placed on a tapered solid black granite pedestal with a flanged granite base.

Inscribed and gilded in Chinese on the front of the pedestal is the Confucian motto, “All Under Heaven Are Equal” rendered in Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s own calligraphy.

Todd Maisel