Friday's dedication also offered more details about the name of the space — Manuel Plaza. According to a city press release:
Manuel Plaza ... is named in acknowledgment of the first North American free Black settlement, known as the Land of the Blacks. The name honors Big Manuel, Clyn Manuel, Manuel Gerrit de Reus, Manuel Sanders, and Manuel Trumpeter, who were among 28 people of African descent who negotiated their freedom from the West India Dutch Company and over 100 acres in land grants in the mid-17th Century in New Netherland.
As noted in previous posts, since the 1990s, the DEP has used this property to work on shafts connected to the underground network of tunnels that supply NYC's drinking water.
Several years ago, there were public meetings to gather ideas for "passive recreation space" here. And this is the result of those.
As a few readers have noted, the design couldn't include large trees because the space is above the water-tunnel site ... and the roots would interfere. The plaza features permeable pavers, seating, native plants, drinking fountains and synthetic turf.
The $1.58 million Manuel Plaza project received mayoral funding from the DEP ($1.31 million), as well as City Council ($200,000) and Manhattan Borough President ($71,000) funding.
This is one of two DEP sites the city has turned into public spaces. Rapkin-Gayle Plaza has also debuted at Grand and Lafayette.