Emerald idle: BPC’s Irish Hunger Memorial closes for months of repairs

Battery Park City Authority The bucolic half-acre of Battery Park City’s Irish Hunger Memorial will be closed for more than a year for repairs and waterproofing.
Battery Park City Authority
The bucolic half-acre of Battery Park City’s Irish Hunger Memorial will be closed through spring for repairs and waterproofing.


Battery Park City’s Irish Hunger Memorial has been shutdown and declared off limits to allow workers to dismantle the monument piece by piece as part of a $4.9 million restoration effort scheduled for completion in late spring 2017.

The memorial has been leaking like a sieve since 2003, despite prior remediation efforts, and Hurricane Sandy didn’t do any favors for the elevated half-acre of transplanted Irish countryside. Nonetheless, the bucolic green space will be tiptop once the work is complete, according to Battery Park City Authority spokesman Nick Sbordone.

“In a neighborhood renowned for its world-class parks and open spaces, the Battery Park City Authority proudly bears responsibility for the maintenance and repair of these incredible public assets,” said Sbordone. “We look forward to completing this necessary work on the Irish Hunger Memorial so that it may be enjoyed by the next generation of visitors.”

The Irish Hunger Memorial, located at North End Ave. and Vesey St. was designed by artist Brian Tolle to raise awareness of the famine that drove the mass migration from Ireland to the United States by way of New York City in the late 19th century.

It was built in 2002 at a cost of $5.1 million, and almost immediately began sprouting leaks on its south side, causing stains and cracks to form throughout the memorial’s structure.

A remediation effort to waterproof the memorial’s cantilevered perimeter was done in 2003, but the leaks persisted and worsened over time. The monument is now considered at a “moderate-to-high” risk of further corrosion developing, and the decision to conduct further waterproofing was made as a result, according to Sbordone.

To accommodate the new restoration and waterproofing effort, workers will be required to dismantle the memorial piece by piece, cataloguing the exact placement of every stone, plant, fence, and even the soil, before reconstructing the memorial exactly as it was once the waterproofing work has completed, Sbordone said.

Critics have lambasted the project for its cost — which had been reported to be as high as $5.3 million, rather than the official $4.9-million figure from the authority — complaining that the repairs would cost more than building the memorial in the first place.

But Sbordone countered that comparing construction costs between now and 2002 is like comparing apples and oranges, and pointed out that the cost of building the memorial today would be closer to $8.9 million, taking inflation into account.