The Hurricane Maria Memorial Commission has unveiled a vibrant memorial honoring the 3,000 victims of Hurricane Maria and the resilience of New York City’s Puerto Rican community. The Hurricane Maria Memorial is located at the Chambers Street Overlook in Battery Park City near Chambers Street and North End Avenue.
The memorial is designed by Puerto Rico-based architect Segundo Cardona and artist Antonio Martorell, who drew inspiration from “Farewell from Welfare Island,” a poem by Puerto Rican author Julia de Burgos detailing the resiliency of the Puerto Rican people. The memorial’s multicolored glass panels spiral upward with words from the poem painted throughout meant to represent the swirling hurricane and a shell of encouragement and protection from hostilities both natural and man-made. Benches are built inside the memorial, inviting visitors to sit and reflect.
“As well as many other Puerto Ricans, we witnessed firsthand the terrible effects of Hurricane Maria,” said Segundo Cardona and Antonio Martorell in a statement to the press. “Our proposal for the creation of a memorial in New York City to remember the victims of the hurricane arose from a shared vision that one can always transform the sad memory of adverse circumstances into something positive and poetic that can bring solace to all.”
Led by Governor Cuomo, the Hurricane Maria Memorial Commission selected Cardona and Martorell as part of a design competition that began in 2017. The final design was first revealed in March 2020 and is now open to the public.
“New York was proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters when they needed our help the most, and we will never forget the victims who tragically lost their lives to Hurricane Maria,” Governor Cuomo said. “We committed to have a memorial symbolizing the spirit and perseverance of the Puerto Rican people completed in one year’s time, and today we deliver on that promise. New York continues to stand with Puerto Rico, and this monument will serve as testament to that enduring partnership today, tomorrow, and always.”