Key Facts: Park Construction

When did the construction of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park begin?

  • Construction of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park began March 29, 2010.

How long did the construction take?

  • Construction of the Park took 30 months, and the timeline of the Park’s construction can be broken down into three overlapping phases:
    • Phase 1: Construction of the “Room,” a 60-foot square open plaza of granite (16 months);
    • Phase 2: Shoreline improvements and foundations for the Park’s garden (24 months); and
    • Phase 3: Installation of lawn, trees, monumental stair, and entry (12 months).
  • The memorial was officially dedicated on October 17, 2012 and opened to the public on October 24, 2012.

What type of granite was used in the construction of the Park?

  • All of the granite used in the construction of the Park was quarried in Mount Airy, North Carolina at the North Carolina Granite Corporation. 
  • This type of granite was specified by architect Louis Kahn in his original design.

How much stone was set in the construction of the Park?

  • FDR Four Freedoms Park is the heaviest stone-setting job ever to be undertaken in New York City. 
  • There are roughly 7,700 tons of stone placed within the Park. The Room is made up of 190 individual stones, seventy of which measure 6 by 6 by 12 feet and weigh 36 tons. 
  • There are over 261,000 hand-placed 4 by 4 inch cobble stones within the Park.

What makes up the Park’s foundation?

  • The Room is supported by both bedrock and caissons.
  • The Park’s “riprap” – the rock barrier that armors the edge of an island to protect it from erosion caused by tides – is made up of 11,000 cubic yards of hand-placed granite gneiss, 65 percent of which was recycled from the site.

What type of landscaping was used in the formation of the Park?

  • There are 120 Littleleaf linden trees and five Copper Beech trees planted within the Park, sourced from nurseries in New York and New Jersey.
  • When planted, the lindens were fifteen to eighteen years old and the Beech trees were thirty years old.
  • There is a 340-foot-long triangular lawn in the center of the Park.

How large is the bronze portrait head of Franklin D. Roosevelt that marks the entrance to the Room?

  • The head of Franklin D. Roosevelt measures 6 feet tall and weighs 1,050 pounds.
  • The original head was a life-size clay, created in 1933 by artist Jo Davidson at the White House.
  • In 2012, a copy of the original bust was enlarged, cast in bronze, and installed in the Park.

Who carved the excerpts from FDR’s Four Freedoms speech?

  • Nicholas Benson, a MacArthur Fellow, hand-carved President Roosevelt’s immortal words into the granite wall at the north side of the Room.
  • A third-generation stone carver, Benson is known as a master of hand letter carvings, and his inscriptions and decorative reliefs can be seen throughout the U.S., including at Yale University, the National Gallery of Art, and the World War II and Dr. Martin Luther King Memorials in Washington, D.C.
  • The Bensons own a stone-carving business in Newport, Rhode Island, called the John Stevens Shop. It was founded in 1705, and maintained by six generations of Stevenses, until Nick Benson‘s grandfather John, a printer, artist, and stone carver, bought it, in the 1920s. In 1993, Nick, who is now 48, took it over from his father.